The last nine Promise Zones have been named by the Obama administration.
Atlanta; Evansville, Ind.; Nashville, Tenn.; Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico; San Diego; South Los Angeles; Southwest Florida Regional Planning Commission, Spokane Tribe of Indians in Washington; and Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians in Rolette County, S.D., have received Promise Zone designations.
The initiative pairs federal government partners with local leaders to streamline resources and deliver comprehensive support.
“Promise Zones bring the power of partnership to a whole new level as we seek to bring opportunity to neighborhoods long locked out of their area’s prosperity,” said Julián Castro, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in a statement. “As a former mayor from a city that includes a Promise Zone, I know just how powerful these collaborations are when it comes to building stronger, economically vital neighborhoods.”
Increasing access to affordable housing is a goal for many of the communities.
In Evansville, the lead organization is ECHO Housing Corp. The organization and its community partners have identified several strategic goals, including increasing jobs, promoting health and access to health care, and providing access to quality affordable housing. The Promise Zone encompasses a population of 22,245 residents and has a poverty rate that’s more than 39%.
In Nashville, the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA) will serve as the lead agency. The Promise Zone comprises 46 square miles, including the neighborhoods just south, east, and north of Nashville’s central business district. MDHA has public housing developments throughout the area. In several of these developments, more than half of households report zero income, and the area reports a poverty rate of 37.6%.
The communities were selected from 82 applications from 38 states and Puerto Rico. Each urban, rural, and tribal Promise Zone applicant was asked to put together a clear description of how the Promise Zone designation would accelerate and strengthen the community’s own efforts at comprehensive community revitalization. Each Promise Zone will be coordinated by a lead community-based organization in partnership with the administration. HUD will be the federal lead for the five urban designees, while the Department of Agriculture will serve as the lead federal partner to the tribal and rural Promise Zones.
All Promise Zones will receive priority access to federal investments that further their strategic plans, federal staff on the ground to help them implement their goals, and five full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members to recruit and manage volunteers and strengthen the capacity of the Promise Zone initiatives.
The nine communities join 13 others that were designated in 2014 and 2015.