CHALLENGE. A mid-size community in South Louisiana sought to revitalize the approach to its downtown area. The community identified the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) HOPE VI grant program as a major source of potential funding. After unsuccessfully applying for two HOPE VI grants, civic leaders were prepared to abandon the project.
SOLUTION. An in-depth study of the HOPE VI program was conducted, identifying a clear pattern of program bias for large urban centers in the Northeast, Midwest and on the West coast. A legislative and regulatory strategy was crafted based on this analysis to expose the program bias and make a case that critical housing issues were present in small to medium sized communities.
RESULT. The House Financial Services Committee adopted legislation altering the HOPE VI award selection process, making the program more accessible to a larger number of communities. To avert direct congressional intervention, HUD altered its HOPE VI allocation formula, eliminating the bias toward large urban centers and making funds available for smaller cities. In 2002, the local housing authority submitted a third HOPE VI application and received an $18.6 million grant.
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