The north Baton Rouge community anchored by the Ardendale urban village is among four national finalists up for a $30 million U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development grant.
On Feb. 20, HUD officials will visit the site—which includes the East Fairfield, Smiley Heights and Melrose East neighborhoods—to get a better understanding of Baton Rouge’s transformation plan for the community, which is being reimagined as an “urban creative village.”
“They’ll already see significant investment from the private sector,” says J. Daniels, director of the East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority. “We want to highlight those different instances, like the Career and Technical Education Center and the Automotive Collision Training Center.”
The $30 million would go toward gap financing for housing, funding assistance for neighborhood organizations like 100 Black Men and the YWCA, and development of an early childhood center, Daniels says. Some money would also be used to create loan funds for businesses that relocate to the area.
It’s likely Baton Rouge, as one of just four finalists, will receive a grant: Congress allocated $145 million for the Fiscal Year 2018 Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grants and those are maxed out at $30 million per community.
Baton Rouge was narrowed down from 32 applicants. Other finalists include the housing authorities and cities of Omaha, Nebraska; Newport News, Virginia; and Norfolk, Virginia.
EBRPHA, along with the City of Baton Rouge and the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority, are working with more than 60 neighborhood, local, state and federal partners to restore vibrancy in the historically blighted area.
The $30 million grant would be leveraged to spur an estimated $335.5 million in further investment, Daniels says.
HUD will announce grant winners in March.