Wednesday, October 5, 2011

HUD Secretary and Mayor Jones Highlight How American Jobs Act Will Further Expand on Success of Existing Neighborhood Stabilization Efforts

Project Rebuild to Help Stabilize Richmond Home Prices


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan and Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones toured the 800 block of North 27th Street in the Church Hill neighborhood to demonstrate how President Obama’s proposed American Jobs Act and Project Rebuild can help stabilize home prices, revitalize neighborhoods, create jobs, and support local economies throughout the City of Richmond.


“Project Rebuild is fundamentally an investment not just in hard hit communities, but also in the hardworking families of Church Hill who have watched their home values plummet on average by $5,000-to-$10,000 simply because they live on a block with a foreclosure sign. The Project Rebuild investment will not only help stabilize individual home prices on the block, but it sends neighbors a hopeful message – we believe in you, we are investing in you, stay here and raise your family,” said Shaun Donovan, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “Our previous neighborhood stabilization efforts have worked and we can see that in neighborhoods like Church Hill, where once stood three foreclosed homes, we now see revitalized properties, new homebuyers and jobs being created,” he added.


"Building unique, healthy and inclusive communities is part of our strategy for becoming a Tier One City, and to succeed we need to marshal all available resources to address issues related to affordable and diverse housing options," said Mayor Jones. "The Neighborhood Stabilization Program has been instrumental in helping us implement the East End Transformation Plan, which we launched last year in partnership with Bon Secours Community Hospital. We've also been able to leverage these dollars for maximum private and non-City investment to help put vacant and derelict properties back to productive use as we are assuming a comprehensive approach to neighborhood economic revitalization. We are encouraged by the federal Administration's decision to establish Project Rebuild, and support full funding of the program."


Recent HUD statistics have shown that communities with neighborhood stabilization investments have seen 67 percent better home sale price changes, 73 percent saw better vacancy rate improvements, and 47 percent saw better home sale and vacancy rate improvements, as compared to similar communities without neighborhood stabilization improvements.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has received over $51 million in previous neighborhood stabilization efforts and municipalities like the City of Richmond could benefit from the proposed $15 billion in funding for Project Rebuild.


The City of Richmond has been allocated $2.4 million in Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP1) funds from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to address foreclosed and abandoned properties. Through NSP3, the City of Richmond was allocated a direct grant of $1.25 million and about $300,000 from the Commonwealth of Virginia’s NSP3 program.


Building on the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, Project Rebuild incorporates new elements such as the inclusion of revitalization of commercial properties and partnerships with for-profit organizations and stronger partnerships with non-profit organizations to an already successful program, and that will help create more jobs and have a much more immediate impact to the local economy.


If approved by Congress, Project Rebuild would invest $15 billion in proven strategies that leverage private capital and expertise to rehabilitate hundreds of thousands of properties in communities across the country. Building on the successful ideas developed during the implementation of the Neighborhood Stabilization Project (NSP), Project Rebuild would include the following innovative ideas:

· Allow for the revitalization of commercial properties


· Include For-Profit Entities to Gain Expertise, Leverage Federal Dollars and Speed Program Implementation


· Increase Support for “Land Banking”


· Create Jobs Maintaining Properties and Avoid Community Blight


Project Rebuild will create nearly 200,000 jobs nationwide and is fundamentally an investment not just in hard hit places but also in the families who live there – the millions of homeowners who have seen their property values decline through no fault of their own, just for being near a foreclosed property. Its inclusion in the American Jobs Act reflects President Obama’s belief that rebuilding neighborhoods is essential to rebuilding our economy.


Click here to read HUD's article, Project Rebuild: In Richmond and Columbus, a Case for the American Jobs Act.



Monday, October 3, 2011

Neighborhood Workforce Development Center Opens in the City

Mayor Dwight C. Jones joined City Council Vice-President Ellen Robertson, Fifth Street Baptist Church Pastor F. Todd Gray, and Workforce Investment Board Chair Deborah Wickham, in a ribbon cutting ceremony today to celebrate the opening of the One Stop Resource & Missions Center at Fifth Street Baptist Church, 2800 Third Avenue.

The new share site is the first joint Workforce Development Center in the City of Richmond and will offer services and resources to City residents to better prepare and search for jobs. The center will partner with RESOURCE, the Capital Region Workforce Investment Board, to teach classes on résumé writing, interview skills, and networking. Trained volunteers will staff the center and serve as career agents and job coaches for interested residents looking for work.

“We know that many Richmonders are struggling, and it is important for the City to partner with the community to be able to provide centers like this,” said Mayor Jones. “In our region, there are jobs available, but the problem many people are having is they may not have the skills required by the new economy. We want to continue assisting people to improve their skill sets based on what employers are searching for.”

The One Stop Resource & Missions Center is open on Mondays and Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Fifth Street Baptist Church Clothing Ministry, “Dress for Success” initiative will also provide clothing for individuals to prepare for interviews.

“Having the skills to do the work is just as important as dressing for the part and making that great first impression,” said Mayor Jones.

The One Stop Resource & Missions Center is asking for volunteers and donations to continue the mission and success of the center. For more information or to volunteer for the Workforce Development Center call (804) 321-5115.