Building Neighborhoods of Opportunity

Today, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded $3.6 million in Choice Neighborhood grants to 13 communities across the country, which provides local leaders with flexible funds to transform high-poverty neighborhoods with distressed public housing into sustainable communities with mixed-income housing, safe streets, and economic opportunity.

Choice Neighborhoods is one of the signature programs of the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, which supports innovative, holistic strategies that bring the right partners together to help break the cycle of intergenerational poverty.  Millions of Americans currently live in neighborhoods of highly concentrated poverty where struggling schools, high unemployment rates, distressed housing, persistent and violent crime cause disproportionately negative outcomes for their residents. The interconnected challenges in high-poverty neighborhoods require interconnected solutions to address the compounding effects of the multiple barriers facing children and families who live in these neighborhoods—the Choice Neighborhood grants announced today do just that.

The President’s approach to revitalizing neighborhoods of distress and providing economic opportunity focuses heavily on the link between housing and school improvements, recognizing that for neighborhoods to succeed they need high-quality educational opportunities. Just last month, the Department of Education announced the first round of Promise Neighborhood implementation grant winners and the second round of planning grant winners.  Promise Neighborhoods, modeled off of the Harlem Children’s Zone, is the sister program to Choice Neighborhoods and focuses on significantly improving the educational and developmental outcomes of children and youth in our most distressed communities, from cradle to career, and to transform those communities by creating great schools at the center.     

A child’s zip code should never determine his or her life opportunities and through the work of the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative’s flagship programs, Choice Neighborhoods and Promise Neighborhoods, we are providing the supports necessary to transform neighborhoods of distress into neighborhoods of opportunity. 

Racquel Russell is a Special Assistant to the President for Mobility and Opportunity in the White House Domestic Policy Council.


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