Remarks by Secretary Ben Carson
FY2019 Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant Announcement
Newport News, Virginia, City Hall, May 13, 2019

 

As prepared for delivery. The speaker may add or subtract comments during his presentation.

Thank you, Mayor [McKinley] Price. And thank you all for being here. 

Today’s announcement is another part of being Secretary of HUD that I really enjoy -- helping communities and neighborhoods transform to improve the living conditions and quality of life for thousands of families. 

In that spirit, to help the residents of Newport News, I’m announcing that the city – together with the Redevelopment and Housing Authority – will receive $30 million [dollars] through the Choice Neighborhood Grant program to redevelop Ridley Place public housing and to revitalize the Marshall-Ridley neighborhood. 

The money HUD is putting forth today will be leveraged with other public and private sources to attract an additional $275.3 million [dollars] to Newport News. That means, for every dollar HUD is investing, $9.17 additional [dollars] will be generated — any banker in the world would be ecstatic about returns like that. 

Let this sink in for a moment: the Marshall-Ridley neighborhood will see $305.3 million [dollars] of new investment. This incredible influx will change the lives and improve the economic outcomes for the many proud families who live here. 

For many in this room, this capital is the culmination of years of hard work and determination. And in the future, today will be remembered as a new beginning for the Marshall-Ridley Neighborhood and Newport News. 

Our funding is focused on three core goals:

1. In housing, we are looking to replace distressed properties with top quality mixed income housing;

2. For the families we serve, we are going to vastly improve the outcomes of households in these communities by connecting them with employment, health, and children’s education; and

3. And for the neighborhoods chosen for the grants, we are planning to create the necessary conditions that will be conducive to investments that result in better schools, more commercial activity, and other attractive development and amenities – all of which are important to help stabilize and grow families.

Newport News, Norfolk, and Omaha, Nebraska are the only cities that earned a Choice Neighborhood Grant this year. You were selected from dozens of applicants because of the vision you put forward – and the promise of that vision to uplift those who need a hand. 

I firmly believe that Washington alone cannot meet all the challenges we face today – whether providing more low-income housing or helping our families reach financial independence.

As I have often said, at HUD, we believe that creating opportunities in our communities can never be the job of just one sector. All of us, whether in the public, private, or nonprofit space, must come together and work as a well-coordinated team.  

I’m sure this is one idea that transcends partisan politics, where we all share common ground.

So, what do we hope to achieve by our investment in Newport News?  

First, The City and the Newport News Redevelopment and Housing Authority intend to demolish the aging Ridley Place public housing development and replace it with a new mixed-income community -- one that is well-managed and responsive to the needs of its residents.

Second, local planners are working to improve the lives of Ridley Place residents. Newport News Shipbuilding is investing in new offices that will bring 600 jobs into the southeast neighborhoods. To help local residents take advantage of the new jobs, a one-stop employment center, the Brooks Crossing Neighborhood Opportunity Center, is under construction. This activity is in addition to the new grocery store and shopping center that have opened nearby.  

Third, our plan seeks to implement a multitude of neighborhood improvements, from building playgrounds to repurposing vacant lots. 

These are the kinds of investments that creates the conditions needed to stimulate public and private reinvestment in distressed neighborhoods.

All together, we are taking another big step forward in the effort to help revitalize the city.

And let me add, to those families and neighborhoods who have persisted through the hard times, we are going to help see that you not displaced by the good times that are surely to come from the important actions taken today.

Thank you again for taking the time to join us.

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