Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative?
The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI) is the Department of Housing and Urban Developments (HUD) signature
program designed to address struggling HUD-assisted properties with a holistic neighborhood-based approach .
Who is the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative for?
Montgomery's Choice Neighborhood Initiative is for the residents of Paterson Court and the surrounding Historic
Centennial Hill neighborhood. Community members and stakeholders will work with the Paterson Court residents, MHA, the City of Montgomery, and a host of partner organizations to apply for the $40 million CNI Implementation Grant.
How will this impact the residents of Paterson Court?
Although Paterson Court will eventually be dispositioned, no relocation will take place before 2023. We intend to reduce the burden on residents as much as possible by securing funding and developing new housing units for Paterson Residents to relocate to directly. In addition, funding from the implementation grant will help build the foundation for a holistic network of services that address education, employment and health to improve the well-being all every household.
Will the Choice Neighborhoods plan celebrate the unique and extensive history of the historic Centennial Hill community?
Yes, this Choice Neighborhood Initiative will highlight significant people, places, and events related to this historic
neighborhood that have shaped not just the City of Montgomery but also the State of Alabama and the Nation. This focus will help in developing policies and resources to support and enhance these historic assets. (See: The Plan)
What’s the difference between the CNI Planning Grant and the CNI Implementation Grant?
The planning grant is a $450,000 grant allocated to Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) and municipal/non-profit entities by The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the purpose of generating a comprehensive neighborhood revitalization plan. MHA was awarded a planning grant in 2021 and completed said grant in the fall of 2022.
The implementation grant is up to $50 million dollars of HUD funding for PHA’s and municipal/non-profit entities to execute the planning grant. Organizations may apply for the implementation grant without having submitted a planning grant but having an approved planning grant is a significant advantage for securing implementation funds.
The MHA was awarded a CNI planning grant in December 2020. The subsequent planning period concluded with the submission of the final draft in December 2022. That plan was approved by HUD in June 2023. The MHA is now positioning itself to apply for the 2024 Implementation Grant. Applications for this grant are due no later than December 11, 2023.
So, the implementation grant is for $50 million dollars? Why do we keep hearing $40 million?
The implementation grant is up to a maximum of $50 million, however, the amount of funding per PHA varies based on the unit size of the target housing community. For PHAs redeveloping communities with 250 units or more, the maximum grant award is $50 million, for communities with less than 250 units the maximum award is also less. MHA’s target community is Paterson Court which hosts approximately 200 units so the maximum amount we can secure is $40 million.
When is Paterson Court going to demolished?
First, Paterson Court is not slated to be demolished but will instead be dispositioned, meaning all residents will be relocated and the property will be sold at fair market value. This way, MHA can avoid expensive demolition costs and therefore retain those funds for future development.
Since MHA has not yet applied for the application and therefore cannot state whether or not the implementation funds will be secured, there cannot be a definitive date as to when Paterson Court will be sold and/or residents relocated. MHA has coordinated a “plan B” in the event that implementation funds are not secured, however, since funding for this plan b is not certain we are unable to give a specific date for this option as well. What is certain is that should we secure an implementation grant, the residents of Paterson Court—and the Centennial Hill community—will be informed of the MHA’s plans for the property within 60 days of the grant award.
Is $40 million enough to execute the Transformation Plan?
In short, no, which is why HUD mandates that implementation grant funds be matched at a minimum of 5% (or $2 million in leverage for a $40 million grant). However, being that this is an extremely competitive grant, the MHA seeks exceed the matching minimum at no less than 50% (or $20 million).
It should be noted that matching funds do not have to be purely financial. HUD also encourages “in kind” leverage which means that services, programs and improvements that are offered to residents and the community for free [without the use of grant funds] will be evaluated based on what those contributions would normally cost. Those costs will then serve as a contribution to the overall leverage amount. (ex. ASU offers free continuing education courses to 50 Paterson Court residents. If tuition for the semester is valued at $5,000 per person, then ASU would have contributed $250,000 in “in kind” leverage).
How is the replacement of Paterson Court supposed to revitalize the whole of Centennial Hill? Are you not just relocating poverty?
At face value, it is easy to make that assumption, but the CNI is designed to do far more than that. First, the implementation grant does not allow MHA to simply rebuild public housing. While we are mandated to execute a one-for-one replacement of all 200 units at Paterson Court, we are also mandated for 50% of new units to be mixed-income housing. This means that MHA is actually tasked with providing 400 new housing opportunities (a mix of new construction, redevelopment and vouchers) half of which will be market rate. The establishment of more market rate units in Centennial Hill is designed to spark investment and individuals with higher incomes to enter the community thus decreasing its impoverished status.
Additionally, housing is only one facet of the CNI, there are also “neighborhood” and “people”, with an emphasis on people. The people plan is designed to assist families in rising out of their current disadvantaged status becoming educated, gainfully employed and invested in the community. The neighborhood plan is geared to making physical, environmental and social improvements in Centennial Hill to make it a safe, attractive and enjoyable place to live for both current and future residents. In short, this three-pronged approach to redevelopment is designed to benefit the entire community not just Paterson Court residents.
How long will the implementation process take?
The previous Implementation Grant award (FY 2022) had a total expenditure date by September 30, 2031 (8 years, 2 months - estimated start date 07/10/23). This timeline is liable to change though it is unlikely. Furthermore, should the MHA have any incomplete projects by the end of the grant period we may apply for a Supplemental Grant up to $6 million to complete any outstanding initiatives in the following year(s).