The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is making up to $10 million available to local communities through a new component of its Choice Neighborhoods program.

The planning and action grants will help selected communities to create locally driven plans to transform their struggling neighborhoods as well as implement early improvements.

Julian Castro, HUD secretary
Julian Castro

Grants of up to $2 million will be available, with the agency expecting to make about eight awards, said HUD Secretary Julián Castro during a call with reporters.

Until now, Choice Neighborhoods planning grant funds could only be used to create a neighborhood transformation plan. “However, experience with the 63 previously awarded Choice Neighborhoods grantees has shown that tangible, early actions help sustain community energy, attract new resources, and build momentum to turn that plan into reality,” said HUD.

The department is building upon these lessons by introducing the new planning and action grants. Under these grants, communities with severely distressed public or HUD-assisted housing will continue to develop a successful neighborhood transformation plan and build the support necessary for that plan to be successfully implemented. In addition, they will also enable activities including:

  • Reclaiming and recycling vacant property into community gardens, pocket parks, farmers markets, or land banking;
  • Beautification, place making, and community arts projects;
  • Homeowner and business façade improvement programs;
  • Neighborhood broadband/Wi-Fi;
  • Fresh food initiatives; and
  • Gap financing for economic development projects.

The successor to the HOPE VI program, Choice Neighborhoods is HUD’s signature place-based initiative. It calls for a comprehensive approach to neighborhood transformation.
“A good home is enriched by the neighborhood around it,” said Castro, explaining neighborhoods need quality schools and reliable transit options in addition to housing.

Planning grant funds are available to public housing authorities, local governments, nonprofit organizations, and tribal entities. Applicants must submit a completed electronic application through by Feb. 9, 2016.

Read HUD’s funding notice.