By Joe Jarosz
Northeast News
January 21, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Three years of work comes to a close within the next month.

About 50 community members gathered to get an update on the Paseo Gateway Choice Neighborhoods Initiative at a recent community forum, which was hosted by KCUMB, the Housing Authority of KCMO, city officials, Brinshore Development, and LISC of Greater Kansas City. The application for the Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grant to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is due Monday, Feb. 9.

The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative is a program from HUD, designed to address struggling neighborhoods with distressed public housing or HUD-assisted housing through a comprehensive approach to neighborhood transformation centered on Housing, People and Neighborhoods.

Chouteau Courts has been identified as a distressed public housing property in need of replacement.

In 2011, the Housing Authority was one of 17 communities (119 communities applied) to receive a $250,000 Choice Neighborhoods planning grant. The purpose of the grant was to assist HAKC in developing a proposed neighborhood transformation plan and build support for that plan to be successfully implemented. Brinshore Development LLC, was hired to assist with the relocation and redevelopment of the housing units. Currently, the Housing Authority is partnering with city and other key community stakeholders to submit an Implementation Grant that would provide up to $30 million in funding to be used towards the implementation of this transformation plan. The proposed Choice Neighborhoods Project Area is bounded by I-29/35 on the west, Chestnut Trafficway and Prospect Avenue on the east, Cliff Drive on the north, and Ninth Street on the south which lies within the Third Council District.

John Monroe, director of planning for the Housing Authority of Kansas City, said the grant would bring in between $20 – 30 million in federal funding under HUD’s Choice Communities Grant program for the purpose of redeveloping and replacing approximately 140 distressed public housing units from the existing Chouteau Courts public housing project and rebuilding new energy efficient mixed-income housing that can become a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization. Monroe said the place-based initiative means they have to rebuild the community in which it’s located.

“There are three core goals; housing, people and neighborhoods,” Monroe said, before introducing other speakers to provide more information about each goal. Stuart Bullington, director of housing for Kansas City, said the city has a strong commitment to this grant, “which includes a lot of moving parts.”

If the grant is awarded, funding will be given to the city over a period of five years. The latest the city would learn of whether or not they’ve received the grant would be November of this year. However, Monroe said finalists should be announced in June or July, and if the city is a finalist to receive the grant, there will be site visits from grant officials.

David Brint, CEO of Brinshore Development, told the audience the goal is to demolish then replace the housing in nodes. There’s a lot of need within the urban core, he said, and a great need to repopulate the corridor. The plan breaks down to one-third public housing, one-third market value housing and one-third Section 42. He emphasized the plan won’t displace anyone.

“We’re excited about the plan and believe it will provide a nice economic impact on the area,” Brint said. “Under the guidance we have, we have to have a mixture and I don’t think that’s unreasonable.”

Last week, the Neighborhoods, Housing and Healthy Communities Committee, as well as the City Council, also threw their support behind the obtainment of the grant by passing an ordinance supporting the application by the Housing Authority of Kansas City, Missouri for a Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant from HUD. The ordinance authorizes city funding and other commitments, as well as authorized the submission of the ordinance to HUD. This ordinance commits an appropriation of up to $2.8 million in capital improvement or other funding between 2015 and 2019 as leverage for the grant. This commitment is also contingent upon award of the grant and would be used for neighborhood improvements needs, including dangerous buildings demolition, match funding for strategic public infrastructure investments, potential Critical Community Improvements projects as outlined in the grant application or for project costs associated with the realignment of the Paseo and Independence Gateway project including potential match funding for design, engineering, ROW acquisition, and/or roadway construction. The ordinance also commits the city to assist the Housing Authority in applying for Low Income Tax Credits that may be necessary or desirable to carry out replacement of the housing units for Chouteau Courts in conjunction with this grant.

This ordinance fulfills various HUD grant application requirements as required in the Notice of Funds Availability, including support for the submission of the grant, a commitment for the city to serve as co-applicant, authorization to prepare and execute other various documents that may be required including a letter of support and/or memorandum of understanding. The ordinance authorizes the Director of Neighborhood and Housing services to commit to allocate up to $1.275 million in the city’s Community Development Block Grant funding and up to $1.5 million in HOME funding, of which $300,000 would be allocated for the Rose Hill Townhomes Choice Communities housing project. This funding is contingent upon award of the Choice Implementation Grant and sufficient unrestricted funds to take out the city’s loan for the Rose Hill Townhomes project. This commitment is limited to the period of 2015-2019 and will be used for the support of replacement housing, minor home repair, violence prevention programs and other public services necessary for successful implementation of these investments.