NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson announced Monday that both Newport News and Norfolk will each receive $30 million grants from the federal government’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative to help transform distressed neighorhoods.

Norfolk is set to use the grant money for its St. Paul’s area redevelopment, while Newport News is focusing its efforts on the Marshall-Ridley neighborhood in the southeast area of the city

The third city to win a CNI grant was Omaha, Nebraska, which received $25 million. 

“HUD’s work is about more than just housing those in need, we also have a responsibility to help create thriving communities where residents can grow and flourish,” said Secretary Carson. “The grants we are announcing today will leverage additional funds to revitalize entire neighborhoods and create more opportunities for those who live there.”

Gov. Ralph Northam issued a news release Tuesday congratulating the two cities on their respective grant awards.

“This is a great opportunity for the Cities of Newport News and Norfolk, the Hampton Roads region, and the Commonwealth to advance the transformation of public housing into dynamic, sustainable communities to help accomplish the vision embodied in Executive Order Twenty-Five,” Northam said in a statement.

In January 2018, Norfolk City Council voted to have the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority move ahead with plans to eventually level the Tidewater Gardens, Young Terrace, and Calvert Square public housing complexes, and replace them with mixed-income communities. The goal is to increase the quality of life for residents and leave behind the neighborhoods’ poverty-stricken past. 

Tidewater Gardens sits just opposite I-264 from Harbor Park, and is the first phase of a nearly 200-acre redevelopment.

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Norfolk’s project has faced resistance from longtime residents of the area, who are worried they might not be able to return following the project. Some say they’ve received mixed signals from officials on relocation plans. 

“You may not get everything that you want but we all have to work together,” said Norfolk Councilwoman Angelia Williams Graves. “This has always been from the beginning an inclusive project, and inclusive process. We’ve opened up the doors to residents to the community. We just want to work with everybody who wants to work with us.”

Carson added that both projects were attractive as they move forward with HUD’s mission. 

“For many years, [HUD] have concentrated on getting people into housing, into programs, that was success,” Carson said. “Now we consider successs getting people out of programs and a successfull economic outcome.”

In Norfolk the grant will provide the following support:

  • Help fund more than 600 housing choice vouchers, one for every Tidewater Gardens household who chooses this option. 
  • $4.5M in supportive services to expand the capacity of People First. 
  • $4.5M for neighborhood amenities such as a 60,000 sq. ft. catalytic community hub for culinary arts, technology, art and more.
  • $21M for housing redevelopment. This includes replacement, affordable and market rate housing options.