For the first time ever, the Wilmington Housing Authority is applying for a competitive, thirty-million-dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD—and they want to make it a community affair. Today the Housing Authority gathered city and county leaders at the Hillcrest development to strategize on winning a Choice Neighborhood Grant. It’s part of an effort, as WHQR’s Katie O’Reilly reports, to transform housing projects into areas indistinguishable from the surrounding city.
Housing Authority board chairman Jeff Hovis says that while some funds would be used to renovate Hillcrest’s facilities, the grant is much more than a brick-and-mortar pursuit. The goal is to turn distressed areas into mixed-income neighborhoods, and attract major investments such as athletic facilities.
"Choice Neighborhood requires the community to actually look at affordable housing—the public side, with some work force. And then you have private—the market rate. And then your goal is to have services to assist people on the public side, and to also make people on the market-driven side want to be here."
City and county officials question the feasibility of attracting market-rate investment. But many, such as county commissioner Thomas Wolfe, say they’re willing to meet about it again.
"I think it’s gonna take some study. There’s a lot of complexity to this plan, and until we can look at it more in detail, I for one would want to explore it more."
Hovis says this discussion was the first of many community meetings--as the grant requires local partners to commit ninety million dollars. If Wilmington wins the grant, Hovis says realizing its objectives will take five to ten years.