Frayser residents packed the Promise Land Baptist Church in Memphis to witness the installation of the Frayser Neighborhood Council, the leadership body of an ambitious community planning effort supported by several federal agencies, including HUD, called the "Frayser 2020". The fifteen members of the Council were elected in a community wide election with real voting machines.
Mayors AC Wharton (Memphis) and Mark Luttrell (Shelby County) addressed the crowd, as did Congressman Steve Cohen (D-9). HUD Memphis Field Office Director John Gemmill and Strong Cities, Strong Communities Team Lead Sarah Sieloff both spoke on the importance of community leadership to direct collaboration between federal programs.
Frayser is a community of approximately 41,000 people. Once populated by workers at the large industrial plants in North Memphis and Frayser, its population declined as the plants closed in the 1980s and '90s. Already stressed by growing poverty, Frayser was extremely hard hit by the banking and financial crisis. Property values plummeted and foreclosures skyrocketed after 2005.
However, in spite of the economic challenges Frayser faced, it maintained a lively community, as evidenced by the 24 community partners of the council. The Frayser Community Development Corroboration and United Housing, both HUD recognized Community Housing Development Organizations (CHDO), utilized Community Development Block Grant, HOME and Recovery Act funds to rehab houses throughout the neighborhood. Frayser also is home to several Project Based Rental Assistance apartment complexes and many residents receive Housing Choice Vouchers.
The Frayser 2020 planning effort is one of ten funded by the Building Neighborhood Capacity Program (BNCP). The BNCP grew out of the White House Office of Urban Affairs Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI). The NRI engages Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Education (ED), Justice (DOJ), Health and Human Services (HHS) and Treasury. The Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) program has been actively involved in the Frayser project. The Center for the Study of Social Policy was engaged to provide technical support for the project.