Seventeen communities across the country have been selected to receive Choice Neighborhoods planning grants.

The $4.95 million awarded will help the communities craft comprehensive, community-driven plans to revitalize public or other Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-assisted housing and transform distressed neighborhoods.

The grantees were selected from 72 applicants. Most received an award of $300,000.

Efforts to revitalize aging public housing in San Francisco took a big step forward with two awards. BRIDGE Housing Corp. is the lead grantee on an effort to revitalize the South Potrero neighborhood. The Sunnydale Development Co., LLC, also received an award to revitalize the Sunnydale public housing project and the surrounding neighborhood. This Sunnydale effort is led by a partnership with Mercy Housing California and Related California.

“While many of these grantees have already collaborated to get to this stage, this funding enables them to take their initial discussions further to plan out strategies to build stronger, more sustainable communities that will address distressed housing, failing schools, rampant crime, and all that plagues the nation’s poor neighborhoods,” said  HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative represents the next generation in a movement toward revitalizing entire neighborhoods to improve the lives of the residents who live there.”

The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative promotes a comprehensive approach to transforming distressed areas of concentrated poverty into viable and sustainable mixed-income neighborhoods. Building the HOPE VI program, Choice Neighborhoods links housing improvements with necessary services for the people who live there–including schools, public transit, and employment opportunities.

The program also provides large implementation grants to entities that have completed a comprehensive local planning process and are ready to move forward with their transformation plan to redevelop their target housing and neighborhoods. In August, HUD announced the nine finalists competing for approximately $110 million in 2012 implementation grants.

The latest planning grant awards will use the funding to work with local stakeholders–public and/or assisted housing residents, community members, businesses, institutions, and local government officials–to undertake a successful neighborhood transformation to create a “choice neighborhood.” The awardees will use the funding to create a comprehensive Transformation Plan, or road map, to transforming distressed public and/or assisted housing within a distressed community.

This year’s awardees are:

  • BRIDGE Housing Corp.; San Francisco,
  • Sunnydale Development Co.; San Francisco
  • District of Columbia Housing Authority
  • County of Pasco; Dade City, Fla.
  • Michaels Development Co.; Honolulu
  • Boston Housing Authority
  • Housing Authority of the City of Durham; Durham, N.C.
  • Newark (N.J.) Housing Authority
  • Housing Authority of the City of Camden, N.J.
  • Municipal Housing Authority of the City of Yonkers, N.Y.
  • New York City Housing Authority
  • The Woonsocket (R.I.) Neighborhood Development Corp.
  • Housing Authority of the City of Spartanburg, S.C.
  • Housing Authority of the City of Columbia, S.C.
  • Kingsport (Tenn.) Housing & Redevelopment Authority
  • Housing Authority of the City of Austin, Texas
  • The City of Roanoke (Va.) Redevelopment & Housing Authority