Woodlawn Choice Neighborhood Initiative
A “neighborhood of choice” is one that links housing improvements with a wide variety of programs and services as well as investments in infrastructure to create a community that offers access to opportunities and amenities for all residents.
In 2011, the Woodlawn team received a HUD Choice Neighborhoods Initiative implementation grant in the amount of $30.5 million for this effort. The grant will support new and renovated housing, as well as programs and services for residents, broader investment in community schools, public safety, infrastructure, job training, and more.
Vision for Renewal
The Woodlawn Choice Neighborhood plan is rooted in the revitalization of the distressed Section 8 Grove Parc Plaza Apartments, located on a 12-acre site at the heart of the Woodlawn community. The site was historically a barrier to investment in the surrounding blocks but today is being rebuilt as a vibrant, healthy and attractive mixed-use/mixed- income urban community.
The vision for renewal was developed through a collaborative planning process with a broad range of community stakeholders. The Woodlawn Choice plan is built on three overlapping components – Housing, Neighborhood, and People:
Beyond the Grove Parc site, the Choice housing plan calls for major investments to return Woodlawn’s nearby abandoned buildings and vacant land to productive use. These investments will include an estimated 355 rental apartments and 45 new homeownership units, as well as a new Woodlawn Housing Loan Fund to support the efforts of homeowners, homebuyers, and smaller local developers to reinvest in the community’s historic buildings.
The Choice plan for neighborhood investments builds on the community “Quality of Life” plan developed through an inclusive process coordinated by the Woodlawn New Communities Program (now Network of Woodlawn), which is the Neighborhood Partner for this effort in Woodlawn.
The plan provides new funding for public safety, helping to address a critical neighborhood need. It supports improved economic opportunities, both by creating new permanent jobs targeted to Woodlawn residents, and by providing employment programs through a new satellite of the Center for Working Families based at Kennedy-King College. It deploys flexible resources to help meet other needs for improved infrastructure and amenities within the community such as walkable streets and broadband internet access.
These “people” programs will be based at a new Woodlawn Resource Center which is being built on the redeveloped Grove Parc site. This Center will house the satellite Center for Working Families, including a family internet center; a homework help room staffed by the Woodlawn Children’s Promise Community; and staff from Metropolitan Family Services available to help connect Grove Parc families to the other resources they need to succeed.
The Woodlawn Resource Center will be open to the entire community, and will also link residents to a robust network of organizations serving the residents of Woodlawn.
As the effort moves ahead, there will be extensive opportunities for neighborhood residents to become involved – through community-wide town hall meetings; recurring working group sessions on key neighborhood issues like public safety and infrastructure; and more. Email us to find out how you can get involved.
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© Preservation of Affordable Housing, Inc. 2008