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«AmericAn neighborhoods: inclusion And exclusion Volume 16, Number 3 • 2014 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development | Office of Policy ...»

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demonstrates one additional indicator of distress (that is, [a] violent crime rates during the past 3 years of at least 1.5 times the city rate, [b] long-term vacancy rates of at least 1.5 times the city rate, or [c] a low-performing school).3 Applicants are awarded points for (1) capacity of the applicant and relevant organizational staff, (2) need/extent of the problem, (3) soundness of approach, (4) leveraging resources, and (5) achieving results and program evaluation. Neighborhoods with higher levels of distress are awarded more points through the applicant rating process. Although the threshold criteria have remained consistent throughout each round of funding, the weight given to specific indicators of distress has changed. Regarding the need and extent of the problem, the weights for poverty or extremely low income levels and vacancy rates have stayed the same, but the weight given to high crime rates has increased and points awarded for low-performing schools have been removed entirely.4, 5, 6 Not included as a criterion for either applying for or receiving a Choice Planning Grant is racial or ethnic concentration. This exclusion is not the result of a lack of recognition of the problem of racial segregation or discrimination or of the possibility that neighborhoods applying for grants may have concentrated minority populations. These topics, as they apply to Choice, are addressed in several locations. The SuperNOFA, which are general guidelines that apply to all HUD grant programs, includes affirmatively furthering fair housing (AFFH) as one of the policy priorities. AFFH, or taking “steps proactively to overcome historic patterns of segregation, promote fair housing choice, and foster inclusive communities for all,”7 is a standard to which HUD has been committed to upholding; new rules proposed in 2013 strengthen that committment. As described in the SuperNOFA, however, racial segregation and concentrated poverty can be addressed separately.8 In addition, a wide range of potential proactive steps may be required of applicants. As translated from the Choice Planning Grant NOFA, applicants are required to affirmatively further fair housing through the marketing and outreach efforts to be used in each of the neighborhoods to attract residents.9 Choice is structured to promote fair housing primarily by addressing concentrated poverty rather than race. The likelihood that applicant neighborhoods will have concentrated minority populations is acknowledged in a statement added to the Planning Grant NOFAs beginning in 2012, however, which recognizes that many applicant neighborhoods may have high minority Choice Neighborhoods Initiative—Planning Grants. Notice of Funding Availability, FY 2010. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=DOC_9823.pdf.

Choice Neighborhoods Initiative—Planning Grants. Notice of Funding Availability, FY 2010. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=DOC_9823.pdf.

Choice Neighborhoods Initiative—Planning Grants. Notice of Funding Availability, FY 2011. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=cn_planning_nofa.pdf.

Choice Neighborhoods Initiative—Planning Grants. Notice of Funding Availability, FY 2012. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=fy12cn-planninggrants.pdf.

“Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.” Published in the Federal Register as a final rule on July 19, 2013. 78 Fed. Reg.


Policy Requirements and General Section to HUD’s FY 2013 NOFAs for Discretionary Programs. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=2013nofagensec.pdf.

Choice Neighborhoods Initiative—Planning Grants. Notice of Funding Availability, FY 2010. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=DOC_9823.pdf.

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concentrations but that these neighborhoods are still eligible for the program because the intent is to make them neighborhoods of choice, presumably attracting a diverse, high-income population.10 This statement was added to resolve any potential confusion caused by two other statements contained in the NOFAs regarding race. The first is a general statement regarding HUD’s strategic plan to increase the percentage of assisted families in low-poverty, low-minority concentration neighborhoods. Consistent with this plan, a second statement indicates that replacement housing outside the Choice neighborhood must not be in areas of concentrated minority population, defined as more than 20 percent higher than the total percentage of the metropolitan statistical area (MSA) or more than 50 percent total11 or of concentrated poverty, defined as more than 40 percent of residents living below the poverty line. If either of these two statements applied to the applicant neighborhoods, most residents would not be eligible to receive funds.

Implementation Grant NOFAs contain considerably more specific language regarding concentrated minority populations, including awarding points for applicants that recognize and address these concentrations in their Transformation Plans. These plans must not only fully describe conditions of segregation in targeted neighborhoods, but also include specific steps to “avoid or reduce concentrations of minority populations.”12 None of the previously mentioned publications provides specific guidance for Planning Grant applicants regarding how they should consider or address concentrated minority populations within neighborhood boundaries. This lack of guidance is problematic. Although the demographics of poor, urban neighborhoods suggest that Choice will affect more minority households than White households, the extent is not as clear. Unlike the physical boundaries of HOPE VI, the boundaries of the urban areas affected by Choice are not set. It is possible that with larger neighborhoods and broader project eligibility, the demographics of Choice neighborhoods may, over time, be different from those of HOPE VI. Yet many of the underlying fundamentals are the same. Like its predecessor program, Choice is conceived as a tool to deconcentrate poverty, but its effects will not be race neutral. This fact needs to be explicitly recognized and addressed.

Methodology Applicants for Choice select their own neighborhood boundaries using an online mapping tool, which then returns information about the proposed neighborhood, including the number of housing units, the poverty rate, and the rate of extremely low-income households. For this research, the neighborhood boundaries identified by Planning Grant applicants for the first 3 years of Choice were provided by HUD in the form of grid coordinates and Geographic Information System, or GIS, shapefiles. All Choice Planning Grant applicants and recipients for the first 3 years of the program were represented in the dataset. No sampling was involved; the dataset represents a 100-percent sample.

Choice Neighborhoods Initiative—Planning Grants. Notice of Funding Availability, FY 2012. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=fy12cn-planninggrants.pdf.

This latter threshold was removed in the second Choice NOFA.

Choice Neighborhoods Initiative—Implementation Grants. Notice of Funding Availability, FY 2012. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=fy12-implem-nofa.pdf.

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The neighborhood boundaries were merged with data from the 1990, 2000, and 2010 U.S. decennial censuses and 2006–2010 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year estimates. Data from 1990 and 2000 were derived from Summary File 1 (SF1) and Summary File 3 (SF3). Data from 2010 include SF1 and ACS data.13 Demographic data used in this research were at the smallest possible geographic unit for which data were available, the census tract or block group. Output tables were created for applicant neighborhoods, adjacent areas within 0.5 mile of the applicant neighborhoods, their adjacent areas, their cities, and their MSAs.

Many neighborhood boundaries did not directly align with census tract or block group boundaries.

This overlap created the possibility that the output tables would either overestimate or underestimate. Where boundaries did not directly align, block groups were used when data were available at that level. Where neighborhood boundaries cut across block groups or where the data were not available at the block group level, the output tables included estimates of the part of the block group or census tract within the neighborhood. These estimates were calculated using the proportion of land area within the neighborhood. For example, if data were available only at the census tract level and 30 percent of that tract’s land area was within a neighborhood, 30 percent of that census tract’s data would be allocated to the neighborhood. This method for estimating still leaves the possibility of overestimation or underestimation if, for instance, the portion of the census tract within the neighborhood has a higher density than the portion without. Therefore, as a final step, outputs were cross-checked against data provided by HUD and against information obtained from a sample of applicants (via applicants’ project summaries) to ensure that estimates in the output tables were accurate. The maximum variance between output table values and HUD or applicantprovided values was 2 percent, with 91 percent of cases having a variance of less than 1 percent.

The output tables were then used to produce descriptive statistics for the applicant neighborhoods, their adjacent areas, their cities, and their MSAs. Where relevant, comparisons with overall U.S.

statistics were considered. Applicant neighborhoods were also categorized based on criteria that included year, region, and success for additional analysis. The full results are contained in a report published by HUD (Gebhardt 2014). Key results related to neighborhood race and ethnicity are reported in the following section.

Information on race and ethnicity is reported in six categories: (1) American Indian, (2) Asian and Pacific Islander, (3) Black, (4) Hispanic, (5) Other, and (6) White. These terms are used in place of non-Hispanic American Indian, non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic Black, and non-Hispanic White. Hispanic is used for individuals of any race identifying as Hispanic.

The data in SF1 are drawn from the short-form questionnaire, which contained questions that were asked of every person in every housing unit. SF1 is a 100-percent sample that contains information on general population and housing characteristics such as age, gender, race, and tenure and vacancy status. SF3 contains data from the long-form questionnaire, which was administered to one out of every six households. The sample data in SF3 include more detailed population and housing characteristics, including education, income and employment, and age of housing. Beginning in 2003, the long-form questionnaire was replaced with the ACS, which is an ongoing monthly sampling of the U.S. population. ACS data are presented in 1-, 3-, and 5-year estimates. Only 5-year estimates are available at the census tract and block group level. The 5-year estimates are an average of the monthly data collected during a 5-year period and represent a survey of approximately one out of every eight households.

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Choice Planning Grant Applicant Neighborhoods During the first 3 years of Choice, 176 completed applications were submitted to HUD for Planning Grants: 76 in 2010 and 50 each in 2011 and 2012. HUD awarded 19 grants in 2010, 13 in 2011, and 17 in 2012. Applicants were not evenly distributed across the United States. Most applications (73 percent) were for neighborhoods in municipalities east of the Mississippi River. Most successful applications (84 percent) also were for neighborhoods in the eastern one-third of the United States.

This distribution is similar to the distribution of HOPE VI applicants (79 percent from east of the Mississippi) and recipients (78 percent from east of the Mississippi). Applicant neighborhoods varied considerably in physical size, total population, and number of housing units, from as small as 0.02 square miles housing as few as 27 people in 4 housing units to as large as 22.22 square miles housing as many as 60,131 people in 22,017 housing units.

Of the applicant neighborhoods, 66 percent have lost population since 1990. On average, declining neighborhoods saw a 22-percent decrease in population. The population in growing neighborhoods increased an average of 37 percent. Neighborhoods receiving grants were more likely to be declining (71 percent declining) than neighborhoods not receiving grants (64 percent declining). Although the population change in some neighborhoods can be explained by a significant change in the housing stock (for example, the demolition of all or a portion of a public housing complex), overall the range of growth and decline is a reflection of different market conditions.14 An interim report on the first set of Implementation Grant recipients also showed a range of market conditions. Different markets necessitated different redevelopment strategies, with plans for stronger market neighborhoods focused on increasing densities and infill development to respond to demand and plans for weaker market neighborhoods focused on improving services and amenities to generate demand (Pendall and Hendey, 2013; Pendall et al., 2013). These different approaches are potentially complicated by race, with strong market strategies increasing the possibility of gentrification and disproportionate displacement of racial minorities and weak market strategies facing the challenge of overcoming racial biases in addition to disinvestment and poor public services.

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