Newport News, Norfolk among 4 finalists for HUD Choice Neighborhoods grants

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NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The cities of Newport News and Norfolk are two out of four finalists for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Grants.

They were selected out of a pool of 32 other communities throughout the country. 

If selected, the cities would receive $30 million.

Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority says the grant money would go towards redeveloping the St. Paul’s Area, specifically Tidewater Gardens.

“If we get it, it will be wonderful,” said Barbara Hamm Lee, who is the spokesperson for the St. Paul’s Revitalization Project.

MORE: New renderings revealed in Norfolk’s St. Paul’s redevelopment

MORE: Architect shares focus for St. Pauls area transformation with residents

Hamm Lee says the project covers 200 acres and will demolish three public housing communities in the area.

Tidewater Gardens will be the first.

She says that the money will allow the project to speed up.

“It will help pay for the new housing. It will help pay for a hub where people will be able to come together to gather like an open market,” she said.

The plan will also include businesses and other open spaces. 

Mixed-income housing will replace the current public housing buildings.

Hamm Lee says they are working with current residents, who will be given vouchers for re-location. After the project is complete, residents can come back to the mixed-income housing, if they wish to do so.

She says that those who will be moved out first have already been alerted, but it’s too soon to pack up.

The timeline depends on if they get the grant.

“This is one part of a long process and that we will give them plenty of time to become prepared,” she said.

Officials are working on a new program called “People First” to help residents with the relocation, according to Hamm Lee. She says it focuses on health care, housing, and other issues that may come about.

St. Paul’s Advisory Committee meetings are also held the third Tuesday of every month at the Basilica of St. Mary’s of the Immaculate Conception.

“Our goal is to make sure everyone is as kept informed as possible to make sure they make the right choice for their individual family.”

HUD representatives will visit the area in early March.

Hamm Lee says if the city is not selected for the grant, the revitalization project will still go forward. 

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