Choice Neighborhoods Grant Awarded to Eastside

      The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that the San Antonio Housing Authority is among 17 communities nationwide that have been awarded planning grants through HUD's new Choice Neighborhoods Initiative. A consortium of San Antonio organizations, led by the San Antonio Housing Authority, will use its two-year $250,000 grant to help transform the Wheatley Courts area into a new viable and sustainable mixed-income neighborhood.

SAHA is presented with a Choice Neighborhoods Grant
L-R : Cindy Shoenmakers, Jeanne Russell, Jackie Gorman-Johnson, David Pohler, Lourdes Castro Ramírez, Councilwoman Ivy Taylor, T.C. Broadnax.

     HUD's new Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CN) promotes a comprehensive approach to transforming distressed areas of concentrated poverty by linking housing improvements with a wider variety of public services including schools, public transit and employment opportunities.

     "President Obama has said that there is no greater economic policy than one that invests in our children's future, but that's not possible if we leave a whole generation of children behind in our poorest neighborhoods. Choice Neighborhoods is designed to transform not just housing in distressed areas, but the entire community," said HUD San Antonio Public Housing Director David Pohler, at a press conference held March 18 at the Wheatley Courts Apartments with City Councilwoman Ivy Taylor, SAHA leadership, local partners and residents.

      "We are excited that this grant will allow us to significantly upgrade eastside housing at the same time that the city and school district are collaborating to enhance the schools and neighborhoods. We applaud HUD for embracing our new approach which explicitly connects school reform, housing renovation and neighborhood revitalization," said Mayor Julián Castro.

     "We know that we all must work together to make sustainable improvements in housing, schools, transportation and healthcare. This grant allows us to continue to collaborate with residents and other organizations to develop and implement a responsive neighborhood transformation," said SAHA President and CEO Lourdes Castro Ramírez.

     The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative is a centerpiece of the Obama Administration's interagency Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative-a collaboration between the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Education, Justice, Treasury and Health and Human Services- to support the ability of local leaders from the public and private sectors and attract the private investment needed to transform distressed neighborhoods into sustainable, mixed-income neighborhoods with the affordable housing, safe streets and good schools every family needs.

     In San Antonio, the HUD Choice Neighborhoods grant will be integrated with the efforts presently underway from a one-year Dept. of Education $312,000 Promise Neighborhoods planning grant, which was awarded in September 2010 to the United Way of San Antonio and its partners, the City of San Antonio, SAHA, San Antonio Independent School District, Family Services Association, Trinity University, Urban Land Institute – San Antonio, the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, the Alamo Chamber, the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Neighborhood Housing Services.
      HUD received 119 submissions for CN Planning Grants; 17 grants were awarded nationally. After completing its plan, SAHA will be eligible to compete in future years for a HUD Choice Neighborhood Implementation Grant, which, if successful, could bring additional millions of dollars to the city to assist in the area's transformation.