August 31, 2011

Mayor Emanuel Announces $30.5 Million in Federal Funding to Revitalize Woodlawn Neighborhood

Funding from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development part of comprehensive plan to renew Grove Parc Plaza

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan today announced that the city of Chicago will receive $30.5 million to redevelop the distressed housing at Grove Parc Plaza and revitalize the Woodlawn neighborhood on the city’s south side.  

“I am committed to protecting and investing in Chicago’s communities,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This important program will create safe and affordable housing for hard-working families in Woodlawn and will have lasting impact on our neighborhoods.”

Chicago  is one of just five cities nationwide to receive the first-ever Implementation Grants awarded under HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, a new strategic approach intended to help transform high-poverty, distressed neighborhoods into communities with healthy, affordable housing, safe streets, and access to quality educational opportunities. Chicago joins Boston, New Orleans, San Francisco and Seattle to receive a combined $122 million. 

“We’ll win the future only if we can ensure that people in every community – even those living in our most troubled neighborhoods – have access to the American Dream,” said President Obama. “With HUD's Choice Neighborhoods grants, my Administration has brought local communities an innovative new tool to ensure that all families can access the quality affordable housing, safe streets, and good schools they need to compete in the 21st century economy.”

“This is a great day for Chicago and the countless families who will benefit from the transformation this funding will bring to the south side,” said Secretary Donovan.  “Choice Neighborhoods recognizes that we must link affordable housing with quality schools, public transportation, good jobs and safe streets.  This is the next generation of neighborhood revitalization that not only transforms distressed housing, but heals entire communities.”

Preservation of Affordable Housing Inc. (POAH), a non-profit housing developer, and the City of Chicago will redevelop Grove Parc Plaza, a 504-unit HUD-assisted housing development built in the 1960s on a 12-acre site in the Woodlawn neighborhood on the south side of Chicago.  Crime, vacant homes and lots, poor schools, unemployment, and lack of access to needed services and amenities plagued the site and broader neighborhood.  After being threatened with foreclosure because of poor conditions in 2007, Grove Parc residents invited the nonprofit development company, POAH, to intervene to preserve the affordable housing.  POAH formed a partnership with the city of Chicago, the Jane Adams Hull House, the University of Chicago, LISC Chicago, and other community partners to redevelop Grove Parc Plaza and revitalize the surrounding Woodlawn neighborhood.

In addition to a wide ranging set of services and neighborhood investments, a total of 965 units are now planned, including replacing the original affordable units, and integrating them with additional workforce, market rate rental and homeownership units.  The total direct investment associated with the Choice Neighborhoods funding is estimated to be $272 million.

Choice Neighborhoods (Choice) promotes a comprehensive approach to transforming distressed areas of concentrated poverty into viable and sustainable mixed-income neighborhoods.  Building on the successes of HUD’s HOPE VI Program, Choice links housing improvements with a wide variety of public services and neighborhood improvements to create neighborhoods of opportunity.

Today’s announcement is the third major element of Mayor Emanuel’s efforts to combat foreclosures throughout Chicago, following this month’s announcement of the Micro-Market Recovery Program, and the passage earlier this year of a first-of-its-kind law that holds banks accountable for vacant and abandoned buildings.