Frequently Asked Questions

+ What is the Choice Neighborhoods Program?

Choice Neighborhoods is a program operated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that supports locally driven strategies to provide a comprehensive approach to neighborhood transformation. Building off the revitalization of public housing, the program is designed to catalyze critical improvements in neighborhood assets, including vacant property, housing, services and schools.

+ What are the goals of the Near West Side Choice Neighborhood Planning Grant?

The end products of the CNI Planning Grant are the submission to and acceptance by HUD of a Transformation Plan and an Action Activities Proposal to transform the Near West Side. The Transformation Plan is focused on three core goals:

  1. 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;
  2. People: Improve outcomes of households living in the target housing related to employment and income, health, and children’s education; and
  3. Neighborhood: Create the conditions necessary for public and private reinvestment in distressed neighborhoods to offer the kinds of amenities and assets that are important to families’ choices about their community, including safety, good schools, and commercial activity.

Particularly, the team will create a roadmap to revitalize the distressed, 248-unit College Court public housing development and increase investment in the surrounding neighborhood. Marquette University and NWSP will work with residents and stakeholders to develop consensus on desired outcomes and create a shared, comprehensive vision for the Near West Side.

+ How is the effort funded?

This effort is funded by a $1.3 million U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Grant as well as contributions from community partners, including NWSP, LISC and WRTP/Big Step, totaling $618,000. In total, $50,000 will be allocated to Early Action Activities, $623,500 will support the overall planning process and $1,244,500 will be used for the Action Activities.

+ Why was this neighborhood chosen?

In 2018, the Near West Side was one of only six applicants to be awarded this competitive grant and was one of only three to receive the full $1.3 million. HUD recognized the momentum currently underway on the Near West Side and the opportunity to continue to improve housing, economic, and neighborhood conditions. In selecting Marquette University in conjunction with Near West Side Partners, HUD identified the unique role residents, a private university and nonprofit organization could play as an incubator for planning catalytic change in the community. Marquette University's successful track record of managing grants and leveraging influential community change is paired with Near West Side Partner’s embeddedness in the community and opportunity to leverage assets from major corporations within the Near West Side.

+ Who is leading this effort?

Patrick Kennelly, Director of Marquette University's Center for Peacemaking is the principal investigator and Keith Stanley, Executive Director of the Near West Side Partners is the co-investigator. The effort will be led by an Advisory Council comprised of residents, community stakeholders, and representatives from the City of Milwaukee and the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee.

+ Where is the Near West Side Choice Neighborhood located? What are the boundaries?

The planning area includes the seven neighborhoods that comprise the Near West Side. The Near West Side is bound by I-43 on the east, I-94 on the south, Highway 175 on the west and in the north Vliet Street until 27th Street and then Highland Boulevard to complete the boundaries.

+ How can I learn more and/or get involved?

To be successful and sustainable, this effort requires the commitment of area residents and community partners. If you live in Near West Side or are interested in getting involved, please participate in one of our upcoming events, sign up for our newsletter to stay informed and contact us with your questions or the ways you would like to contribute.