HUD’s mission all along has been to “create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all”. They do this in a variety of ways and one in particular is the sale of homes in depressed areas. For realtors, this can be a real boon as homes can be purchased, refurbished and sold. It’s good for the realtor, good for the homeowner and above all it often sparks community revitalization in many inner city and rural areas where HUD homes are sold.
Community growth and rebirth
HUD’s signature place-based initiative in support of the President’s goal to build Ladders of Opportunity to the middle class is called “Choice Neighborhoods”. According to portal.hud.gov, Choice Neighborhoods is focused on three core goals:
- Housing: Replace distressed public and assisted housing with high-quality mixed-income housing that is well-managed and responsive to the needs of the surrounding neighborhood.
- People: Improve educational outcomes and intergenerational mobility for youth with services and supports delivered directly to youth and their families.
- Neighborhood: Create the conditions necessary for public and private reinvestment in distressed neighborhoods to offer the kinds of amenities and assets, including safety, good schools, and commercial activity, that are important to families’ choices about their community.
HUD Secretary Julián Castro points out that Planning and Action Grants of up to $2 million will enable communities to create a locally driven plan to transform struggling neighborhoods, as well as implement early improvements, such as reclaiming vacant property and attracting new businesses. Says Castro, “These grants will let local leaders create homegrown plans to strengthen their neighborhoods and to take those first vital steps to turn their plans into reality.”
Good for the housing market
Realtors seek opportunities in areas where they can facilitate the most sales. So it stands to reason that this latest HUD initiative can potentially create many opportunities for realtors and should not be ignored.
Under these HUD grants, communities with severely distressed public or HUD-assisted housing will continue to develop a successful neighborhood transformation plan and build the support necessary for that plan to be successfully implemented. In addition, according to the Planning and Action Grant Fund’s charter, the plan will also enable activities including:
- Reclaiming and recycling vacant property into community gardens, pocket parks, farmers markets, or land banking.
- Beautification, place making, and community arts projects
- Homeowner and business façade improvement programs
- Neighborhood broadband/Wi-Fi
- Fresh food initiatives and Gap financing for economic development projects.
Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grantees can be found across the country in cities and towns, such as Kansas City, Missouri, Norwalk, Connecticut, and Sacramento, California. Several Planning Grantees have successfully launched neighborhood improvements that provided the inspiration for Planning and Action Grants.
According to HUD portal, for example, in Salisbury, North Carolina, partners expanded a Mobile Fresh Farm to residents, spurring a nearby college to open a new culinary school that will provide mentoring to local students and sell surplus produce at discount prices. In Columbus, Ohio, partners created a gateway to the community by redeveloping a highway bridge and creating a mural wall with a history of the neighborhood.