Baton Rouge awarded $30M HUD neighborhood grant to revitalize community

Originally published by WBRZ.

Baton Rouge has been announced as one of four cities in the country to receive a grant to help revitalize distressed neighborhoods and bolster economic development in the community.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods implementation grant for revitalization projects in Ardenwood Village.

“This grant will fund a neighborhood revitalization project, which will help improve the quality of life for hundreds of Louisiana families. Neighborhoods should provide families with community and give kids a safe place to ride their bikes and play with their friends. The Choice Neighborhoods grant is a significant investment into the Baton Rouge economy, and it will help make the Ardenwood Village a more welcoming place for families to call home,” said Senator John Kennedy.

“This is very good for East Baton Rouge Parish. This grant brings critical housing, health, and education resources to those in need of help,” said Senator Bill Cassidy.

East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome says the grant will also go towards improvements in the Smiley Heights and Melrose East neighborhoods within Ardenwood Village.

“Our team of stakeholders on this grant opportunity focused on developing a comprehensive plan as part of our application. The plan highlighted resilience, placemaking, and innovation, and I’m confident this is why the HUD chose Baton Rouge for this incredible award,” she said.

HUD received 32 grant applications and selected four applicants as finalists.

Baton Rouge was selected out of 32 candidates. Other finalists included Omaha, Nebraska, Newport News, Virginia, and Norfolk, Virginia.

City-parish a finalist for $30 million HUD Choice Neighborhoods Grant

Originally published by The Advocate

City-parish officials this month will host a delegation of representatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the pursuit of a $30 million grant that has been targeted for an ambitious transformation project for a historically neglected Baton Rouge corridor west of Lobdell Boulevard.

HUD leaders will be in Baton Rouge Feb. 20 to meet with officials from the East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority, the parish's Redevelopment Authority and the mayor's office for a site visit to gain a better understanding of the city's proposed rehabilitation plans for the East Fairfield, Smiley Heights and Melrose East community. 

It was announced early this week the city-parish is among four finalists for HUD's $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant. 

The city-parish intends to leverage the grant to create more than $335.5 million in planned investments for the neighborhood. The community-driven transformation plan involves public and private investments designed to revitalize abandoned properties, improve connectivity to community assets and job centers along with introducing a mix of housing and retail/commercial uses to restore the neighborhood's vitality.   

"The Ardendale transformation encompasses all of these key areas and is vital to the transformation of the community," Housing Authority Executive Director J. Wesley Daniels, Jr. said in a news release. 

Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said the plan focuses on "the cradle to college-employment model" while incorporating arts, culture, health and wellness. 

"We look forward to showcasing our plans for these new initiatives on Feb. 20," Broome said in the release. 

HUD is expected to announce the Implementation Grant Award recipients in March.   

Ardendale-anchored north Baton Rouge neighborhoods up for $30M HUD grant

Originally published by Baton Rouge Business Report

The north Baton Rouge community anchored by the Ardendale urban village is among four national finalists up for a $30 million U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development grant.

On Feb. 20, HUD officials will visit the site—which includes the East Fairfield, Smiley Heights and Melrose East neighborhoods—to get a better understanding of Baton Rouge’s transformation plan for the community, which is being reimagined as an “urban creative village.”

“They’ll already see significant investment from the private sector,” says J. Daniels, director of the East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority. “We want to highlight those different instances, like the Career and Technical Education Center and the Automotive Collision Training Center.

The $30 million would go toward gap financing for housing, funding assistance for neighborhood organizations like 100 Black Men and the YWCA, and development of an early childhood center, Daniels says. Some money would also be used to create loan funds for businesses that relocate to the area.

It’s likely Baton Rouge, as one of just four finalists, will receive a grant: Congress allocated $145 million for the Fiscal Year 2018 Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grants and those are maxed out at $30 million per community.

Baton Rouge was narrowed down from 32 applicants. Other finalists include the housing authorities and cities of Omaha, Nebraska; Newport News, Virginia; and Norfolk, Virginia.

EBRPHA, along with the City of Baton Rouge and the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority, are working with more than 60 neighborhood, local, state and federal partners to restore vibrancy in the historically blighted area.

The $30 million grant would be leveraged to spur an estimated $335.5 million in further investment, Daniels says.

HUD will announce grant winners in March.

FY2018 Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants Competition Finalists Identified

Originally published by U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD)

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has identified four applicants as finalists to compete for FY2018 Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants to transform public and/or other HUD-assisted housing, as well as the surrounding neighborhood.  The entities below, selected from a pool of 32 applicants, will compete for individual grants of up to $30 million.  HUD anticipates announcing awards in March 2019.

Finalists - Lead Applicant / Co-Applicant(s) (if applicable)

  • City of Omaha, Nebraska / Omaha Housing Authority

  • Housing Authority of East Baton Rouge / City of Baton Rouge, Louisiana

  • Newport News Redevelopment and Housing Authority / City of Newport News, Virginia

  • Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority / City of Norfolk, Virginia 

Next Steps for Finalists:

In the coming weeks, a HUD team will visit the targeted housing and neighborhoods to meet with the applicants and partners to get a clear understanding of their individual Transformation Plans.  The HUD teams will ensure the applicants are committed and capable of implementing the neighborhood transformation as described in their application.  Therefore, being selected as a finalist is not an indication of a grant award.

Site visits are part of HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant application review process to determine which of the finalists are most competitive.  Opening the site visits to the public or revealing the location of the targeted housing or neighborhood at this stage is not permitted under the statute governing HUD’s process to award competitive grants.  Following the visits, HUD may request that applicants respond to technical clarification questions.

How Finalists Were Selected:

These finalists were ranked on how well their vision, capacity, and need addressed Choice Neighborhoods’ 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 outcomes of households living in the target housing related to employment and income, health, and children’s education; 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.

Finalists were determined based upon information submitted to HUD by the application deadline of September 17, 2018.  HUD has conducted a two-tier process for reviewing FY2018 Choice Neighborhoods Implementation applications: (1) application screening and (2) preliminary rating and ranking.  In the application screening stages, HUD screened each application to determine that it met the NOFA’s key eligibility criteria, did not contain technical deficiencies, and met all threshold criteria (listed in Section III.C).  Applications that passed the application screening stage moved to the rating and ranking stage.  The preliminary rating and ranking tier involves two stages of rating review.  A Stage 1 rating review was conducted in which HUD evaluated the applications based on the Capacity and Need rating factors.  Applications that scored sufficient points in the Stage 1 rating review moved to Stage 2 rating review, where HUD evaluated applications based on the Strategy (Neighborhood, Housing, and People) and Soundness of Approach rating factors.  The applicants that were selected as finalists met all of the NOFA’s eligibility criteria, demonstrated strong capacity, and have developed a transformation that addresses the three core goals of Choice Neighborhoods.

Applications Not Selected for Funding:

HUD has notified the 28 applications that were not selected for funding.  Such applications were either (1) void or ineligible submissions, (2) did not meet threshold criteria in Section III.C of the NOFA, or (3) did not score sufficient points to be selected as a finalist.

If an application did not meet all threshold criteria, HUD has provided a detailed letter to the Lead Applicant and Co-Applicant fully describing the threshold criteria and failure(s).  As the application was not rated, this letter constitutes the debriefing.  For applications that were rated (either only in Stage 1 or both Stage 1 and 2), HUD has provided the applicants with a copy of the score earned for each rating factor that was reviewed.  HUD will offer debriefings for these applications as soon as the competition concludes, beginning no later than April 2019.

Baton Rouge Area Foundation - Smiley Heights

Originally published by Baton Rouge Area Foundation.


After Hurricane Katrina, The Foundation teamed with its real estate ally, Commercial Properties Realty Trust, to try and build a mixed-use, mixed-income community that met the demand from a growing population.


The first attempt to build Smiley Heights on 200 acres off Florida Boulevard between and around North Lobdell and North Ardenwood was shelved because of incomplete financing. The Foundation restarted the neighborhood in 2010 with an education focus.


With the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment authority and others, the Foundation negotiated with owners of the property and assembled financing to buy the land. At the same time, the Foundation and the RDA recruited anchors for the Smiley Heights. They are to be an auto training center operated by the Louisiana Community and Technical College System and a career high school by EBR Public Schools. Housing, shops and green spaces will fill out the community. Construction should commence by mid-2013.

BRCC Opens Automotive Collision Training Center

Originally published by The Advocate

Baton Rouge Community College's Automotive Collision Training Center is ready to prepare students for careers in auto body repair and vehicle painting.

BRCC officials held a ceremony Wednesday to mark the opening of the nearly 26,000-square-foot facility. It includes shop space with paint booths, automotive lifts, a car straightener and welding booths. There are two classrooms large enough to drive vehicles in, so students can get demonstrations on repairs and estimating damage.

"We're actually teaching them real-world scenarios," said Jayson Purdy, program coordinator for the BRCC Automotive Technology department.

Courses will start in the collision training center in the spring. At first, the classes aimed at getting people in the workforce will focus on non-structural damage and painting, Purdy said. Plans are in the work to add damage estimating training down the road. 

The collision training center will operate along with the Automotive Technology Center at BRCC, which has been taking in students for about a year and a half.

Before the auto collision training center opened, people who wanted to work in the industry had to get training from local body shops and manufacturers or go to Houston, said Wayne Knight, collision manager at BRCC.

Knight said there is a demand for workers in local auto body shops. “If there are 200 body shops in Baton Rouge, probably 180 of them are looking for technicians,” he said. 

Entry-level wages for auto body technicians start between $16 and $18 an hour. After five years, a good technician can make $100,000 a year, Knight said.

Major Neighborhood Initiative Public Meeting Scheduled Thursday, August 30th

FOR MORE INFORMATION CALL:  Dianna Payton, Chair EBRPHA Board of Commissioner at 225-383-0681 or J. Wesley Daniels, Acting CEO of EBRPHA at; Angela deGravelles, 225-202-5073

EBRPHA, RDA and City of Baton Rouge To Share Information for HUD’s $30 Million Choice Neighborhoods Grant


The East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority (EBRPHA), Redevelopment Authority (RDA) and the City of Baton Rouge will hold a town hall meeting Thursday, August 30, at 5:30 p.m. on the BR Choice Initiative. The meeting will be held at New Hope Baptist Church, 5625 Greenwell Springs Road.  There are more than thirty (30) stakeholder groups supporting this community planning effort.

The purpose of the meeting is to detail the next steps for the competitive $30 million HUD Choice Neighborhood Implementation (CNI) grant which is “vital to the ongoing progress and transformation of  this community,” according to EBRPHA Board of Commissioners Chair Dianna Payton.

Much of the research on the community's interest and design elements that has been gathered  through focus groups and surveys will be shared with stakeholders. Attendees will be given an opportunity to present their ideas as well.

EBRPHA will share key information on the initiative which comprises approximately 1.6 square mile area of three adjoining neighborhoods, Melrose East, Smiley Heights, and East Fairfields.  In 2014, the City of Baton Rouge was awarded $500,000 to begin the planning process to envision the neighborhood transformation process, now called BR Choice.

EBRPHA, RDA and the City are now preparing a $30M Choice Neighborhood  Implementation (CNI) grant application that will be completed and sent to Washington DC in mid-September.   

“The BR Choice Initiative provides an opportunity to invest in the transformation of an area of our city in dire need of uplifting," added Payton.  “We have a strong group of major stakeholders and we welcome additional community partners who are passionate about redeveloping our community. It is our hope that citizens, business leaders, schools, community groups,  foundations, higher education institutions and individuals from these neighborhoods and beyond are invited to join us for this key strategy meeting to focus on continuing community engagement to accomplish the vision," added Payton.  

East Baton Rouge Parish Redevelopment Authority President and CEO Chris Tyson noted that "For almost a decade the Redevelopment Authority and its partners have worked to develop Ardendale with more than $50 million invested. Now we are excited to partner with the East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority and the City of Baton Rouge in the next phase of this major revitalization."

The new HUD CNI grant is focused on three core goals:  Housing, People, and Neighborhoods.  The "People" goal is to improve outcomes of households living in the target housing related to employment and income, health, and children’s education. 

The community neighborhood initiative process is part of the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative created to align federal funding streams that invest in transforming neighborhoods of concentrated poverty into neighborhoods of opportunity.  Added Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, "The plan is focusing on the cradle to college-employment model while incorporating arts and culture and health and well."

"The voices of families from these neighborhoods, as well as the stakeholders throughout the community, are vital to demonstrating overall support for this significant investment in education, economic opportunities and health/wellness," said J. Wesley Daniels, Jr., Acting CEO of EBRPHA.  He noted that one major aspect of the vision  to create an attractive mixed-income, mixed-use neighborhood to increase the quality of life for the residents of Baton Rouge.

East Baton Rouge Career and Technical Education Center Under Construction

Originally published by School Planning & Management.

A new Career and Technical Education Center (CTEC) is under construction in East Baton Rouge Parish (EBR), La. The new facility will be a modern addition to the district in East Baton Rouge, and will be built to display an industrial look that mirrors some of the disciplines studied within. The design allows for future additions and changes as dictated by the changing labor market.

The new school is being built to promote education for many in-demand, high wage fields. EBR CTEC hopes to address a shortage of qualified candidates for many technical jobs in the region. The school, which plans to open this coming August, currently has 133 students enrolled.

CTEC Rendering.jpg

LHC and OCD award $33 million to improve housing in flood-impacted parishes

Originally posted by Leesville Daily Leader.

Today the Louisiana Housing Corporation (LHC) Board of Directors awarded $30.4 million in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds to address long-term housing needs in parishes impacted by the 2016 floods. Funding will be used to construct or rehabilitate seven multifamily rental properties. The properties are projected to benefit 825 individuals and families across the state.

Community Development to help revitalize communities devastated by the floods.

“The Great Floods of 2016 damaged more than 28,000 rental units, intensifying an already serious housing crunch for our low-to-moderate income households,” Office of Community Development Executive Director Pat Forbes said. “Louisiana’s resilient recovery depends on strengthening every aspect of our communities, including affordable rental housing. Combining CDBG funds with $37.2 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits will provide critically needed energy-efficient affordable housing for our hard-pressed low-to-moderate income families. This program replicates the successful piggyback funding model used by the state to build affordable rental housing after hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike.”

LHC and OCD have awarded funds to:

Valencia Park of Spanish Town, Baton Rouge
‒ Target Population: Veterans
‒ Total Development Cost: $21,006,594

CDBG –DR Funds: $5,723,931
‒ 122 Units

Cypress at Gardere Affordable Senior Housing, Baton Rouge
‒ Target Population: Seniors
‒ Total Development Cost: $18,565,353

CDBG –DR Funds: $3,845,000
‒ 99 Units

Sherwood Oaks, Baton Rouge
‒ Target Population: Special Needs
‒ Total Development Cost: $27,689,328

CDBG –DR Funds: $5,989,634
‒ 248 Units

Progress Park, Baton Rouge
‒ Target Population: Seniors
‒ Total Development Cost: $5,537,226

CDBG –DR Funds: $2,638,736
‒ 48 Units

Cypress Pointe RAD, Bogalusa
‒ Target Population: Family
‒ Total Development Cost: $14,868,818

CDBG –DR Funds: $4,579,878
‒ 112 Units

Hammond Eastside, Hammond
‒ Target Population: Veterans
‒ Total Development Cost: $4,904,059

CDBG –DR Funds: $3,090,829
‒ 28 Units

Ardenwood Mixed-Income MF Apartments, Baton Rouge|
‒ Target Population: Family
‒ Total Development Cost: $26,420,079

CDBG –DR Funds: $4,570,309
‒ 168 Units

In partnership with the OCD, nearly $140 million has been made available to rehabilitate rental housing in flood-impacted communities.

New CTEC school coming to EBR Parish

Originally published by BR Proud.

A new school is coming to East Baton Rouge Parish and doors open this fall. 

The Career Technology Education Center, also known as CTEC, will offer students across the district a new educational track for high school studies and post-graduation careers. 

CTEC will help students who are ready to begin their career straight from high school or want to dual enroll in technical college courses. The Education Center will initially offer four main areas of focus with different specializations built into each area of study.

1. Computer Science/Information Technology: cyber engineering, IT programming, IT networking

2. Medical: emergency medical tech, health sciences

3. Manufacturing: operations, instrumentation, automotive

4. Skilled Crafts: HVAC, electrician, drafting, carpentry

CTEC will accept close to 150 students with plans to eventually acept more than 300 students. To learn more about CTEC and to apply to become a student or a teacher visit