Updated March 28 at 6:28pm

Woonsocket group lands $300K from HUD for housing efforts


BOSTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will award $300,000 to Woonsocket-based NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley to execute grassroots efforts to revitalize public housing at the Veterans Memorial Housing and transform the Our Neighbor’s Planning District neighborhood.

NeighborWorks is one of 17 organizations from across the United States to receive a Choice NeighborhoodsPlanning grant. The grants were announced Friday.

“This funding will enable NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley to take its initial discussions with local partners further to plan out strategies to build a stronger, more sustainable community that will address distressed housing, failing schools, rampant crime in this housing and community,” Nancy Smith Greer, HUD Rhode Island field office director, said in a statement.

“HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative represents the next generation in a movement toward revitalizing entire neighborhoods to improve the lives of the residents who live there,” said Smith Greer.

In its grant application, NeighborWorks called the planning district “one of the most diverse and impoverished communities in the state of Rhode Island,” added that the area suffers from economic and industrial decline as well as substandard housing and high vacancy rates.

According to the organization, nearly half of the neighborhood’s population lives below the poverty line.

NeighborWorks Blackstone Valley, the Woonsocket Housing Authority, Dorgan Architecture and Planning, and other partners intend to use the $300,000 to engage the community to help provide housing opportunities, amenities and services to the 300-unit Veterans Memorial public housing site at 2 Bourdon Blvd. in Woonsocket.

“I congratulate NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley and Woonsocket Housing Authority for winning this competitive grant which will be used to engage residents and the community in planning for the redevelopment of the Veterans Memorial public housing complex,” U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, a Democrat, said in prepared remarks. “This crucial funding will supplement existing community development efforts to promote better access to schools, transportation, jobs, and other services for residents in Woonsocket.”

HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative promotes a “comprehensive approach” to transforming distressed and impoverished areas into sustainable, mixed-income neighborhoods.

The 17 awardees announced Friday were selected from among 72 applications nationwide.


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