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HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 97-199
Further Information:For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-1420Wednesday
Or contact your local HUD officeOctober 8, 1997


WASHINGTON - Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo today announced the award of $6.5 million to the Kansas City Housing Authority "to continue the Clinton Administration's dramatic and unprecedented transformation of public housing," through the replacement of Downtown's Heritage House and the relocation of the development's elderly residents to three mixed-income communities in the city.

Nationwide, Cuomo said HUD is awarding $498.3 million in grants this month to housing authorities in 27 cities under the HOPE VI program.

In announcing the first group of grants last week, Vice President Al Gore said: "We are transforming the worst public housing developments in America into outposts of opportunity that will help poor families build better lives and help revitalize America's cities."

Cuomo said the vast majority of the 3,400 public housing authorities around the nation do a good job providing safe and affordable housing to low-income families. However, some older public housing developments have deteriorated over the years, becoming magnets for crime and roadblocks to efforts to revitalize the surrounding area.

"We are creating a new concept of public housing for the new century," Cuomo said. "Besides removing blighted public housing from the urban landscape, we will breathe new life into cities by building safe neighborhoods that will attract more businesses, more jobs and more residents."

In addition, HUD is using the HOPE VI grants to help make welfare reform succeed, Cuomo said.

"Besides providing families in need with improved housing, we will help them move from welfare to work so they can climb out of poverty under their own power," Cuomo said.

The $6.5 million HUD grant to the Kansas City Housing Authority will be used to replace Heritage House, a nine-story public housing development for the elderly that will be sold to the city. The new development will consist of 135 units in three mixed-income communities that will be leased to both public housing and non-public housing families. One community will serve the elderly and disabled persons, while the other two will provide housing for families, with special emphasis on families with special needs.

The Housing Authority of Kansas City has devised self-sufficiency plans to address the needs of families with members with physical or developmental disabilities and to foster independent living for senior/disabled public housing residents. Partners in this effort include Catholic Charities, the Full Employment Council, the Shepherd's Center, Women's Employment Network, Park College, Child Welfare League of America, Senior Companions, Truman Medical Center and the Community Housing Network.

"The Heritage House redevelopment will provide new and improved housing opportunities to Kansas City's public housing residents while helping make Senator Bond and Mayor Cleaver's vision for the Downtown Civic Mall a reality," Secretary Cuomo said. "The Civic Mall can truly stimulate the economic development of Downtown Kansas City, as I saw when I visited in June."

U.S. Senator Christopher "Kit" Bond said, "Heritage House is the last remaining obstacle to development of the Civic Mall. Thanks to Secretary Cuomo's help, and a little heavy lifting on the appropriations committee, we're going to be on our way. The rejuvenation of this part of downtown will be off and running."

Congresswoman Karen McCarthy said, "I am proud to join in announcing this historic HOPE VI award which is essential to the success of our Ilus Davis Civic Mall. When the elected representatives of this community work together, real progress toward redevelopment is accomplished and the citizens of this community benefit."

Mayor Emanuel Cleaver II said, "This is terrific news. Heritage House was the only stumbling block left in our efforts to build the new Ilus W. Davis Civic Mall. With the help of Secretary Cuomo, Senator Bond, and Congresswoman McCarthy, we can now move forward in our plans to build the Mall and, as a result, spur redevelopment on the east side of Kansas City's Downtown Loop."

The effort to clear the Heritage House site to make way for the Ilus W. Davis Civic Mall and provide for replacement housing for residents was a top priority for Senator Bond and Mayor Cleaver when they hosted Cuomo and top HUD officials at HUD For a Day in Kansas City on June 6th. The Civic Mall will be the centerpiece of new development in the eastern portion of Downtown, including the new federal Courthouse, a Federal Aviation Administration building and United Missouri Bank's new technology center. The mall will connect the Courthouse with the City Hall.

Around the nation, 6,284 units of public housing will be built or modernized across the country with the new HOPE VI grants, creating successful residential communities that will help revitalize surrounding neighborhoods, Cuomo said.

In addition, 7,772 substandard public housing apartments will be demolished with the grants.

HUD's assistance will be tailored to carry out plans developed by local communities as part of President Clinton's overall urban policy.

Nationwide, the HOPE VI funding will pay for:

  • Making physical improvements to existing public housing.

  • Building new public housing.

  • Demolishing some of the nation's most deteriorated public housing.

  • Job training and employment programs to help public housing residents and other low-income people move from welfare to work.

  • Fighting crime and drugs in public housing through President Clinton's "One Strike and You're Out" policy, which is keeping criminals from moving into public housing and evicting those already there.

  • Improving the management of public housing.

  • Helping working public housing residents and other poor working families become homeowners.

Under the Clinton Administration, HUD is carrying out the most dramatic transformation of public housing since the housing was created six decades ago.

HUD has demolished about 30,000 units of the worst public housing and will demolish another 70,000 (for a total of 100,000) by the end of the year 2000 to change the physical landscape of public housing.

Despite these demolitions, the supply of affordable housing will increase under the Clinton Administration's transformation.

About 40,000 of the 100,000 public housing units being demolished are in such bad shape that they are vacant. As a result, only about 60,000 occupied apartments are being demolished. These apartments will be replaced by about 40,000 new units of public housing and by 61,000 rental vouchers that will allow poor families to rent housing in the private market.

As a result, the number of affordable housing opportunities supported by HUD will increase by about 40,000. Public housing residents displaced by demolitions are given the opportunity to receive vouchers or to move into new public housing.

It would cost more to rehabilitate the 100,000 worst units than it will to carry out plans to replace them with new public housing and vouchers.


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