Six public housing authorities (PHAs) have been awarded $113.6 million in HOPE VI grants to transform distressed public housing units, with an added twist of incorporating early childhood education programs into their plans.

Housing authorities in Charlotte, N.C.; Covington, Ky.; Dallas; Jersey City, N.J.; Trenton, N.J.; and Memphis, Tenn., were selected from among 44 agencies that applied for HOPE VI revitalization grants.

For the first time, PHAs were encouraged to include ways to connect early childhood programs into their redevelopment efforts. Housing authorities were given additional points in the scoring process for demonstrating commitments related to early education.

The Charlotte Housing Authority will use its $20.9 million grant to revitalize the Boulevard Homes public housing development. Under the plans, 301 distressed units will be demolished and replaced with a total of 902 units, including public housing, low-income housing tax credit, project-based voucher, and market-rate apartments. The revitalization is centered around an education campus that responds to the needs of the residents and surrounding neighborhood. The campus will have a K-8 school, an early childhood development center, and a community center, and will provide links to the community college.

In another example, the Dallas Housing Authority received a $22 million award to revitalize its Turner Courts project. The housing authority is working to implement Head Start programs at the new development.

The move signals the new direction that the Obama administration is pushing the program. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is broadening HOPE VI into a new initiative called Choice Neighborhoods, which seeks to transform neighborhoods of poverty into mixed-income neighborhoods with effective schools, public transportation, and improved access to jobs.

HUD recently posted advance guidance for the initiative to provide details prior to the actual funding notice, which is scheduled to be published this summer.