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March 2016 Choice Neighborhoods Conference

This section includes materials from the 2016 Choice Neighborhoods Grantee Conference. The conference included featured speakers, in-depth deep dive and strategy sessions, as well as promising practice workshops on community engagement, financing tools for redevelopment, strategies for stabilizing distressed and vacant properties, enhancing community safety, and improving resident outcomes. Three hundred people attended, including representatives from Implementation Grants and FY13 and FY14 Planning Grants.

View the March 2016 Conference Program. The program includes session descriptions and speaker bios.

View the March 2016 Conference Report. The report captures key topics and takeaways from the conference. It is organized by session type and topic, with particular attention to practical tools communities can apply and adapt to their local efforts.


Reaching for the Future: Competing in the 21st Century

Description: Tom Murphy, Urban Land Institute Canizaro/Klingbeil Families Chair for Urban Development, gave an inspiring talk focused on the leadership, leverage and appetite for risk necessary to transform neighborhoods and cities. Prior to joining ULI, Tom served three terms as mayor of Pittsburgh, during which time he initiated a public-private partnership strategy that leveraged more than $4.5 billion in economic development in the city.


People-Powered Place-Making: Harnessing Technology to Build Sustainable Community Leadership from the Ground Up

Description: Dr. Antwi Akom, Co-Founder of the Institute for Sustainable Economic, Educational, and Environmental Design (I-SEED), challenged us to put into action a community engagement model for the 21st century, which prioritizes equity. Community engagement 2.0 “ground truths” the data used to make decisions about communities, mobilizes local knowledge, and recognizes that people of different races, genders and ages engage in different ways. Dr. Akom’s approaches to stakeholder engagement, bottom-up innovation, data democratization and building community leadership are rooted in racial and social justice that build sustainable cites and neighborhoods with the 100 percent – not only for the 1 percent. Dr. Akom is also a professor at San Francisco State University, has been named a 21st Century Eco-visionary, and is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Robert Wood Johnson Health award.



Building and Sustaining Resident and Community Leadership

Building sustainable community leadership is central to both planning and implementing neighborhood change. This session explored the process of building resident and community leadership and developing the organizational capacity to continue to engage this leadership over time. The Deep Dive featured an in-depth look at how Winston-Salem and Pittsburgh supported the development of strong resident leadership. During the Strategy Session, participants engaged in a series of activities to consider how they could strengthen leadership in their communities. Facilitated by Sandra Moore, President of Urban Strategies, and Frank Farrow, Director of the Center for the Study of Social Policy.


  • Download the Introduction presentation by Frank Farrow and Sandra Moore
  • Download the Winston-Salem presentation by Alan Steinbeck, Renaissance Planning
  • Download the Pittsburgh presentation by Stanley Holbrook and Donna Jackson, Larimer Consensus Group

Positioning Your Neighborhood for Economic Development

This session was designed for communities pursuing a retail, industrial land use, small business or other economic development project that feels narrowly focused, fragmented or not strategic enough. The Deep Dive used a case study from Columbus to illustrate how the viability of a retail project depends on a set of related strategies to define and revitalize the neighborhood. The Strategy Session used a case study from Atlanta of redevelopment of urban industrial land to examine how to connect regional industrial opportunities to neighborhood assets and development – sometimes referred to as “economic place-making.” Facilitated by Robert Weissbourd, President of RW Ventures, LLC.


Understanding Your Housing Market

This track explored how an innovative housing market analysis can help develop a neighborhood housing plan that is both realistic and forward-thinking. During the morning Deep Dive, Laurie Volk, Co-Managing Director at Zimmerman/Volk Associates, Inc. presented a unique approach to understanding housing market segments and market potential. In the afternoon Strategy Session, experienced developers discussed how market potential shaped their specific projects, including income mixing, marketing and managing market rate units. Participants then worked in small groups to assess their housing plans and get feedback on their most pressing questions from the panelists. Facilitated by Paul Brophy, Principal, Brophy & Reilly LLC.


  • Download the Residential Market Analysis presentation by Laurie Volk, Zimmerman/Volk Associates, Inc.
  • Download the Paseo Gateway presentation by David Brint, Brinshore Development
  • Download the East Baltimore presentation by Sean Closkey, TRF Development Partners
  • Download the Right Mix presentation by Julie DeGraaf, McCormack Baron Salazar

Supporting Employment & Family Economic Stability

Today, employment and family economic stability are often hindered by low education achievement, need for demand industry skills, high costs of daily living, and undiagnosed health and mental health problems. In this session, the Deep Dive spotlighted proven federal and local policies, strategies and programming, which are being layered to effectively address root causes of barriers to employment. Two case studies from San Francisco and New Orleans were featured. The Strategy Session engaged participants in a comprehensive self-assessment of local employment plans and outcomes. Panel members provided feedback to support action items for participants. Facilitated by Pamela Lawrence from HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods team.


  • Download the presentation by Pamela Lawrence, Issac Dozier and Esther Shin of Urban Strategies, Jocquelyn Marshall of TMC Global Consulting Network, LLC, Rafiq Munir of HUD, and Derrick Williams of the U.S. Department of Labor
  • Download the employment self-assessment tool
  • Download the self-assessment tool with score key


Community Engagement

Empowering Residents for Long-Term Engagement: Lessons from Winston-Salem
In partnership with Renaissance Planning and Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods, the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem developed a capacity-building and leadership development program for residents called Neighbors in Action. This approach has resulted in meaningful resident engagement via the newly formed Cleveland Avenue Transformation Team.


Financing Tools for Redevelopment

Maximizing Leverage: Using CDBG Funding to Support Neighborhood Revitalization Activities
This workshop discussed potential and creative uses of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to support efforts to transform neighborhoods, including the benefits of Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Areas.


Unlocking the Power of New Market Tax Credits
Community Development Entities DC Housing Enterprises, Enterprise Community Investment, and LISC New Markets shared what it takes to get a New Market Tax Credit deal done in order to add jobs, retail services or community services in a neighborhood.


Stabilizing Distressed and Vacant Properties

Blight Elimination: Creating and Implementing a Comprehensive and Place-Based Plan
Flint, Michigan, an American legacy city that has lost half of its population over the last 50 years, showcased its nationally known Five-Year Blight Elimination Framework.


Innovative Strategies for Distressed Properties
City and community development organizations in Pittsburgh and Chicago shared how they used public processes and public and private resources to acquire and redeploy distressed properties as part of a neighborhood revitalization strategy.


Enhanced Community Safety

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED): More than Just Lighting
Two communities that have received both HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods and DOJ’s Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation grants discussed how they assembled high-impact safety teams and used CPTED principles to organize their work. Facilitated by Nancy Howard from LISC’s Community Safety Initiative.


  • Download the presentation featuring Providence and San Antonio

Successful Place-Based Policing Strategies: Lessons from the Boston Police Department
The Boston Police Department (BPD) received Public Safety Enhancement funding from the Department of Justice and reduced crime in the Dorchester Choice Neighborhood. At this workshop, BPD shared their successful experiences with community policing, collaborating with a clinical social worker, directed patrol, and CPTED.


  • Download the Boston Police Department’s presentation
  • Download the handout
  • Watch the video Community Policing Done Right produced by NeighborWorks

Improving Resident and Community Outcomes

Building on Assets and Opportunities to Develop a Successful People Plan
Meriden, Sacramento and Boston shared their experiences developing People plans as Choice Neighborhoods planning grantees, including ways to identify and cultivate partnerships that can serve as the backbone for a People plan and help position you to effectively put the plan into action. Facilitated by Kathy Carton from EJP Consulting Group.


  • Download the presentation featuring Meriden, Sacramento and Boston

Navigating to Outcomes: The Academic Navigator’s Role in Attaining Student-Centered Results
Launched in 2003 and now a Promise Neighborhoods grantee, the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) works to close the achievement gap and end generational poverty in North Minneapolis. NAZ seeks to improve student outcomes, even when students in the zone attend multiple schools. The workshop discussed the specific role that Academic Navigators are playing in NAZ’s efforts to accelerate results for scholars and families in the zone.


  • Download the Northside Achievement Zone’s presentation

Creating Employment Supports that Work: Lessons from JobsPlus
This workshop presented best practices for place-based employment supports for public housing residents, building off of the national Jobs Plus model and New York City’s Jobs-Plus program.


  • Download the presentation featuring New York City
  • Download MDRC’s report The Second Generation of Jobs Plus Programs
  • Download the HUD-DOL joint toolkit From the Ground Up: Creating Sustainable Partnerships Between Public Housing Authorities and Workforce Investment Boards