The week brought good news and disappointing news to the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The authority will receive nearly $8.4 million to use toward capital improvements in its public housing properties this year, HUD announced. But local planners must start over on the more ambitious goal of gaining $30 million in funding as part of the federal Choice Neighborhood program. HUD did not include Buffalo among the six finalists for the grants.
Buffalo sought the federal Choice Neighborhood grants to implement the Perry Choice Neighborhood Transformation Plan, a joint initiative of the BMHA, the University at Buffalo, SUNY Buffalo State and a long list of agencies and partners.
Henry Louis Taylor Jr., a UB professor of urban planning and project director for the Perry plan, said Thursday that his team will regroup and try again.
“Our game plan is to work out a strategy to put together a reapplication for next year, hoping that the funding will be available,” Taylor said. HUD “always will send back a detailed report on the application, so you can see where you may have lost points and you can fine-tune the application.”
He added that this isn’t the end of the project “by any stretch of the imagination,” and he also noted that the hoped-for HUD money would fund just the start of the neighborhood’s rebirth.
“The $30 million is merely catalytic money, to help move other resources into the area to implement all the various components. It’s seed money,” Taylor said.
The plan was developed with the help of $250,000 in HUD funds awarded in 2011. The BMHA was one of 17 housing authorities, out of 119 applicants nationwide, to be awarded the money over a two-year period to develop a plan to revitalize public housing developments and the communities around them.
The community redesign would remake the Commodore Perry Homes and surrounding neighborhood – located south of the Niagara Thruway and east of the Cobblestone District – into a network of mixed-income housing, shops, parks and other amenities.
The plan for the Perry Choice Neighborhood Transformation can be viewed online at www.bmhapcn.com.
The cities that made the HUD shortlist for grants of up to $30 million are Atlanta; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Columbus, Ohio; Tulsa, Okla.; and Norwalk, Conn.
The nearly $8.4 million awarded to Buffalo from the HUD Capital Fund Program was expected, said BMHA Executive Director Dawn Sanders-Garrett.
It is Buffalo’s share of $1.8 billion awarded to more than 3,100 housing authorities by HUD to build, repair and modernize public housing around the country.
“It is awarded on an annual basis, as money the BMHA receives for capital improvements,” Sanders-Garrett said. “It will be put toward improvements such as safety and security, cameras, quality-of-life improvements and basic construction projects.”
The amount, in line with previous capital fund grants from HUD, puts Buffalo near the top among the recipients, especially for cities its size. Buffalo ranked No. 21 for the amount awarded, behind St. Louis and San Francisco, but ahead of Detroit, Dallas, Los Angeles and Houston.
Rochester, which ranked No. 55, will get about $3.7 million. HUD awarded $1.1 million to the Niagara Falls Housing Authority and $807,903 to Lackawanna’s authority.