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HUD   >   State Information   >   Louisiana   >   News   >   HUDNo.2013-11-25
HUD Region VI No. 14-07
Patricia Campbell/Scott Hudman
(817) 978-5974/(713) 718-3107
Twitter: @HUDSouthwest
November 25, 2013


NEW ORLEANS – At an event held today at Baton Rouge City Hall with Baton Rouge Mayor/President Melvin “Kip” Holden, HUD New Orleans Field Office Director Art Wells and East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority Executive Director Richard Murray, HUD announced the award of a $500,000 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant to help revitalize the Smiley-Heights-Melrose East neighborhood (see grant summary below).

“Through this investment, HUD is providing the resources for local leaders to transform neighborhoods into thriving communities where families will choose to live,” said HUD New Orleans Field Office Director Art Wells, who announced the award.  “The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative represents a huge step in a movement toward revitalizing entire neighborhoods by providing critically needed funding to support locally-driven economic development solutions.”

“Neighborhoods in need are not on the back burner for Washington or Baton Rouge”, Mayor Holden said.  “Baton Rouge has a great relationship with HUD and Senator Landrieu’s Office, and working together we make sure people pay attention to the Capitol City”.

Baton Rouge was one of nine awardees out of 52 applicants for the $4 million in grants announced nationally. Successful applicants demonstrated their intent to plan for the transformation of neighborhoods by revitalizing severely distressed public and/or assisted housing while leveraging investments to create high-quality public schools, outstanding education and early learning programs, public assets, public transportation, and improved access to jobs and well-functioning services. HUD focused on directing resources to address three core goals:

  • Housing: Transform distressed public and assisted housing into energy efficient, mixed-income housing that is physically and financially viable over the long-term;
  • People: Support positive outcomes for families who live in the target development(s) and the surrounding neighborhood, particularly outcomes related to residents’ health, safety, employment, mobility, and education; and
  • Neighborhood: Transform neighborhoods of poverty into viable, mixed-income neighborhoods with access to well-functioning services, high quality public schools and education programs, high quality early learning programs and services, public assets, public transportation, and improved access to jobs.

The grantees will use the funding to work with local stakeholders--public and/or assisted housing residents, community members, businesses, institutions and local government officials--to undertake a successful neighborhood transformation to create a “choice neighborhood.” The awardees will use the funding to create a comprehensive Transformation Plan, or road map, to transforming distressed public and/or assisted housing within a distressed community.

Choice Neighborhoods is one of the signature programs of the White House Promise Zones Initiative where the federal government will partner with and invest in communities to create jobs, leverage private investment, increase economic activity, expand educational opportunities, and improve public safety. Working with local leadership—and bringing to bear the resources of a number of the President’s signature revitalization initiatives from the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Agriculture—federal programs and resources will support local efforts to turn around 20 of the highest poverty urban, rural and tribal communities across the country. 

View grant summary for Baton Rouge.


HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at and You can also follow HUD on twitter @HUDgov, on facebook at, or sign up for news alerts on HUD's Email List.