The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative is a program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Its goal is to transform neighborhoods of extreme poverty into functioning, sustainable, mixed-income communities.
In 2014, HUD awarded a $30 million Choice Neighborhood Implementation grant to Philadelphia. The goal was to transform a North Central Philadelphia community into a mixed-income neighborhood with access to:
The Division of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) were the lead partners implementing the grant. Residents and other stakeholders played key roles in the process. Together, they leveraged over $125 million to revitalize the community.
The investments fell into three categories:
The grant was completed in October 2021.
The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) was the lead Housing partner. It redeveloped the 147 Norris Apartments and 70 vacant lots. The 297 new homes include:
- 147 rental replacement units for Norris residents.
- 90 affordable rental units.
- 30 market-rate rental units.
- 30 affordable and workforce housing units for sale.
PHA was the lead People partner and Temple University provided support as a lead education partner. Working with other stakeholders, they connected Norris residents to:
- Health and wellness services to help residents be physically and mentally healthy.
- Employment training and job placement to make households financially stable.
- Educational programs so that youth graduate from high school ready for college and jobs.
The Norris Community Resident Council, working with Temple’s School of Education, leads an after-school/summer camp program. Now in its fourth year, this partnership serves up to 70 Norris youth and is a HUD best-practice model.
DHCD was the lead Neighborhood partner. It is working with local partners to reduce blight and increase safety. Highlights include:
- Turning a large vacant lot into Philabundance’s Community Kitchen. The kitchen offers food service training and placement services for 220 students.
- Making lighting and art improvements at SEPTA rail line underpasses. These steps promote safety and community connections. The Mural Arts Program, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and the Streets Department are key partners.
- Increasing access to recreation and community programs at the 8th and Diamond Playground. Residents are guiding these improvements.