HUD awards $30 million to City of Denver to revitalize Sun Valley neighborhood

DENVER — U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Principal Deputy Secretary of Public and Indian Housing Lourdes Castro Ramirez announced that the Denver Housing Authority and partners will receive $ 30 million to revitalize the Sun Valley neighborhood during a press conference and tour of the Sun Valley Homes with Mayor Michael Hancock. Earlier this morning, HUD Secretary Julián Castro announced the following communities will receive grants totaling $ 132 million awarded through HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative:  Denver; Louisville, Kentucky; Boston, Massachusetts; St. Louis; and Camden, New Jersey.

“These game-changing investments will breathe new life into distressed neighborhoods and offer real opportunities for the families who call these communities home,” Castro said. “What we do today will leverage private investment and bear fruit for generations of families looking for an opportunity to thrive in neighborhoods that are connected to the economic and social fabric of their communities.”

“This grant award is a major step in our collective work to improve the lives of residents in the Sun Valley neighborhood,” Mayor Hancock said. “The cycle of poverty that many here are experiencing has gone on for far too long, and it’s time we reverse that trend. The residents of Sun Valley deserve the same access to opportunities that so many others in our city have, and this plan will breathe new life into all of these efforts.”

The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative is part of the Administration’s drive to reinvest in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty by revitalizing distressed federally supported housing into sustainable, mixed-income housing with access to transit, better schools and jobs.

“DHA and the Sun Valley community have worked tirelessly for many years to bring forth this vision for the future of the neighborhood.” Ismael Guerrero, DHA Executive Director stated.  “More than anything, we are enthusiastic about this CNI award because of what it means for the children of Sun Valley.   We will replace the obsolete housing with new and improved housing, and we will make investments in the neighborhood.  And all of that will be with the goal of making Sun Valley a great place for families and a neighborhood where our children reach their full potential.   That is DHA’s commitment to our residents and the community.”

The Housing Authority of the City and County of Denver and the City and County of Denver were awarded a $ 30 million FY2016 Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant for the Sun Valley neighborhood – Sun Valley EcoDistrict. Located just west of downtown Denver, Sun Valley is the lowest-income neighborhood in the city, and the Sun Valley Homes and Sun Valley Annex public housing developments are among the housing authority’s most distressed and isolated sites. Despite these challenges, Sun Valley holds incredible potential, with a new light rail station and significant planned private and public investments. In hopes of capitalizing on this potential, local partners secured a FY2013 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant and created a comprehensive Transformation Plan for Sun Valley. With the award of a Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant, local partners will be able to build 750 new, mixed-income housing units; improve the neighborhood’s landscape by creating new open space and increasing opportunities for local businesses; increase families’ access to quality jobs and education and develop a centralized district energy program to serve the target area.

In recent years, Denver has become among the fastest growing city in the country, balanced by a strong entrepreneurial environment, expanded infrastructure, and a talented workforce. However, due to a disconnected street grid, an abundance of vacant and underutilized land and concentrated poverty, the Sun Valley neighborhood has been isolated from the City’s growth. Eighty-three percent of Sun Valley households live below the poverty line and the neighborhood’s Part I violent crime rate is the highest in the city – 5.6 times the citywide average. Despite these challenges, new investments being made in Sun Valley are laying the groundwork for future growth. The Decatur-Federal Light Rail Station was completed in 2013 and now connects the Sun Valley to downtown and the surrounding region. In the northern part of the neighborhood, the Denver Broncos plan to construct a $ 351 million Entertainment District with retail, commercial and residential developments. Additionally, the City is continuing to invest in the neighborhood’s light industrial area to attract new businesses.

Read a comprehensive summary of each the Choice Neighborhood grants announced today.

Choice Neighborhoods build on the successes of HUD’s HOPE VI Program, linking housing improvements with a wide variety of public services and neighborhood improvements to create neighborhoods of opportunity. With today’s announcement, HUD has awarded more than $ 633 million in Choice Implementation Grants since 2011. Choice Neighborhoods is focused on three core goals:

Housing: Replace distressed public and assisted housing with high-quality mixed-income housing that is well-managed and responsive to the needs of the surrounding neighborhood;

People: Improve educational outcomes and intergenerational mobility for youth with services and supports delivered directly to youth and their families; and

Neighborhood: Create the conditions necessary for public and private reinvestment in distressed neighborhoods to offer the kinds of amenities and assets, including safety, good schools, and commercial activity, that are important to families’ choices about their community.

Choice Neighborhoods is HUD’s signature place-based program, which supports innovative and inclusive strategies that bring public and private partners together to help break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. The program also encourages collaboration between HUD and the Departments of Education, Justice, Treasury and Health and Human Services to support local solutions for sustainable, mixed-income neighborhoods with the affordable housing, safe streets and good schools all families need.

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AT&T Awards $250,000 to City Year Denver to Support Student Success

NORTH DENVER — On October 18 North High School welcomed Mayor Michael Hancock and City Year Denver’s Vice President & Executive Director, Morris Price to the podium for a prestigious $ 250,000 award grant from AT&T to help support student success at North and Manual High Schools.

Due to City Year Denver’s success supporting and motivating underserved students to stay in school and prepare for their next step in life, it has been selected as one of 18 recipients nationwide that will share in $ 10 million from AT&T through the Aspire Connect to Success Competition.  Hundreds of organizations applied to the competition that is part of AT&T Aspire. It is the powerhouse communication brand’s philanthropic initiative to help students succeed in school and beyond.

Funding recipients deliver integrated student supports, focus on college or career preparation, and provide mentoring or peer-to-peer supports to help underserved students graduate. This funding will support 9-12 grade students in two high-poverty high schools in Denver, North and Manual. The most at-risk students will receive individualized, case-managed services through City Year’s Whole School Whole Child program model, assisting them to graduate high school on time and be prepared for success in college and the workforce.

During the 2016-2017 school year, 72 City Year Denver AmeriCorps members will serve full time alongside teachers in nine Denver Public Schools. The Corp members provide high impact student, classroom and school-wide supports to help students stay in school and on track to graduate from high school, ready for college and career success.

Hancock reflected through his lens of history, “DPS holds a special place in my heart. Coming here today makes me miss high school. Man, I miss that…I remember those days. They were the greatest days of our lives. But, for some, it is the end of the line. They don’t get a chance to cross the finish line. While graduation rates continue to rise in Denver, we have more work to do to prepare our students for college and beyond. “We need to make sure they are on track by 10th grade to ensure success in their educational journey.” One way to help is by “connecting them with healthy, productive adult relationships as they matriculate throughout high school.” With City Year’s presence, he said they have helped lift students on their shoulders.

Mayor Hancock enthused, “I want to thank AT&T for the generous gift of $ 250,000 at North High School and Manual. With the support of efforts like AT&T Aspire, we can continue to nurture programs like City Year Denver and the one-on-one attention they provide while utilizing innovative solutions to providing after-school and in-class support for our students.”

During City Year’s five-year partnership in Denver, the graduation rate at North High School went from 47% to more than 75%. The rates continue to climb, and programs like these are an embedded part of the school’s continuing rise.

Principal Scott Wolf believes that City Year is part of the reason. “I started teaching 13 years ago in San Jose, California. I had a City Year Corp member in my classroom. They provided huge support. It is now my 4th year at North High School and I’ve had the privilege to continue partnering with City Year. In fact, my whole education experience has been with City Year as a partner. Without them, we wouldn’t have the same level of successes we are enjoying today.  I’m excited about the leadership Morris Price provides in Denver and so thankful for all of his support.”

Price, with his warm smile and enthusiasm, a trait that is shared with his City Year team, is solidly rooted in planting the seeds for success for today and all future generations. He said, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is today.”  He thanked Hancock for his “leadership and vision that has welcomed City Corp members to the hallways, classrooms and playgrounds of schools throughout Denver.” He also said, “City Year Denver is grateful to AT&T for their generous investment in our program. We greatly appreciate their efforts to connect underserved high school students with success through their Aspire Connect to Success competition and other initiatives.”

One City Corp member, McKenna spoke for the team, “ I am lucky to serve in a 9th-grade English classroom. We attend 5-6 classes per day and are an extra tool for the teachers, as well as greeting students in the morning, and providing homework help before and after school. The classrooms are packed, the halls are noisy and homework is crumbled into backpacks, but we work to bring students the potential that they deserve. I am one of 72 members who are catalyzing change and empowering our young people to be their very best.”

Hancock agreed. “I have been here on opening day at North. City Year members enthusiastically welcomed students coming through the door. We must continue to increase the positive contact and form solid, healthy relationships with adults who are willing to give of themselves for a year. You will touch a young person you may not know. That’s the power. You may be advancing the next Hilary Clinton, Barak Obama, the next Mayor, the next CEO, the next lead engineer, because you infused a moment of hope in these students!”

Roberta Robinette, President, AT&T Colorado presented the check to the team with great enthusiasm. “We are very thrilled to be here today. In 2008 AT&T launched its signature initiative philanthropic program. Our goal is to drive innovation in education. Through Aspire, we’ve passed the $ 250 million mark on our plan to invest $ 350 Million in education from 2008-2017.”

With that impressive statistic for education partnership, she invited the Mayor, Mr. Price and the City Year AmeriCorps team to come up and enjoy the fruits of their labor, and ongoing support for the students of North and Manual High School. A+ goes to AT&T.


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