NEW YORK, NY - The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is spearheading a plan to transform the Mott Haven neighborhood in the South Bronx with a $300,000 grant from the federal Choice Neighborhoods program.
LISC will deploy its Building Sustainable Communities model of convening residents, community organizations, business leaders, neighborhood institutions, city agencies and elected officials to develop a long-term plan focused on increasing opportunities for residents. The plan will address ways to revitalize housing, improve resident health, promote strong educational opportunities and create new jobs in what has long been one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country.
The transformation of Mott Haven will be made possible by a Choice Neighborhoods planning grant to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), with LISC as planning coordinator. After the initial planning phase, which is expected to take 18 months, NYCHA and LISC will apply for additional federal funds for implementation and begin assembling the private capital to support specific projects and programs.
"Choice Neighborhoods is so important because it doesn't just focus on housing. It looks at restoring the health of the whole community," noted Denise Scott, executive director of LISC New York, the largest and oldest of LISC's 31 urban program sites. LISC New York has invested $2 billion since 1980 to rebuild troubled neighborhoods across the city, collaborating with community-based organizations and local institutions to drive change.
"This grant dovetails neatly with our existing work tackling significant threats to the most fundamental aspects of quality of life," Scott continued. "Mott Haven residents suffer greatly from high unemployment, high crime, low-performing schools and poor health. They don't have a neighborhood grocery store or easy access to primary health care. They don't have vibrant local businesses where they can find the goods and services most of us take for granted. Our planning work will address all of that, in addition to revitalizing housing."
Choice Neighborhoods, funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is the successor to the federal HOPE VI program, which focused on rebuilding aging public housing projects. This NYCHA grant does that as well—centered on The Ramon E. Betances Houses in Mott Haven—but extends that effort to the broader aspects of everyday life in this area. Of the 47,000 residents of Mott Haven, fully 17,000 live in public housing, with 84 NYCHA buildings throughout the community.
"This is an incredible opportunity for NYCHA to make a tangible difference in the quality of life of many of the residents of Betances Houses and the Mott Haven community in general," said NYCHA Chairman John Rhea. "We recognize that a major transformation is needed in this neighborhood, and with these funds we are better equipped to work with local stakeholders—public and private—to develop and invest in a comprehensive transformation plan that will address the needs of this distressed public housing development and surrounding community, and in effect create a 'choice neighborhood."