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Contact(s):Meg Matthews

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

NSP2 Progress Garners Little Rock a High Grade

Contact Information
Meg Matthews
Public Relations Manager
(501) 371-4421

Little Rock Gets an “A” for Stimulus Grant Progress

Press Release
(Little Rock, January 4, 2012)

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has given the City of Little Rock the highest grade possible – an A – for its progress in using $8.6 million dollars in Neighborhood Stabilization Act 2 grant money. HUD released a report this week which graded each of the 59 cities across the country that received a portion of the $1.9 billion dollars in NSP2 funding. The grant stipulated that each city had to spend half of their grant money to acquire and redevelop foreclosed and abandoned properties by February 11, 2012 and the City of Little Rock reached that benchmark in December.

“We had no doubt we would spend the $4.3 million dollars in the time line defined by the grant,” said Housing and Neighborhood Program Director Andre Bernard. “However, questions had been raised about our ability to do so and we wanted to make sure we were absolutely transparent about how these tax payer dollars are being spent. It’s a lengthy process to purchase property and revitalize it and we work every day to move this process along.”

The City received an $8.6 million NSP 2 grant in 2010 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The purpose of the grant is to save neighborhoods where foreclosed and abandoned buildings are considerably hurting their viability and to increase home ownership.”

“Not only does the NSP 2 grant help turn the tide for declining neighborhoods by improving property, it also helps low income residents become home owners,” said City Manager Bruce Moore. “This is an important component of neighborhood stabilization.”

One way foreclosures hurt neighborhoods is by decreasing the value of nearby properties. But they also contribute to a less tangible sense of neighborhood decay, as foreclosed properties sometimes fall into disrepair during the long legal process or stand vacant afterward, inviting vandalism or more serious crime.

With this NSP 2 grant, the City entered into a consortium with the Little Rock Housing Authority, Habitat for Humanity and Better Community Developers. These agencies are buying, remodeling and demolishing properties in two neighborhoods designated by HUD as having the most need – they are the Central High and Stephens areas.

The consortium has 40 units under construction and there are over 100 abandoned or foreclosed properties that are being worked on as a part of this NSP2 grant.

“Every house that’s built by the NSP2 consortium has to have an Energy Star rating of at least 2.5,” said NSP2 Administrator Kevin Howard. “But in many cases we have exceeded that. For instance, the City of Little Rock demolished a condemned structure on West 13th Street and built a new home that has and Energy Star rating of 5. That will save the homeowners $850 a year in energy costs.”

An architectural review committee oversees design plans for new construction to make sure they stay consistent with the other homes in the Stephens and Central High Neighborhoods.

“The intention of revitalizing these specific neighborhoods, as opposed to spreading it out through the City, is to gain some redevelopment momentum,” said Mayor Mark Stodola. “It’s believed that this kind of neighborhood transformation will encourage the private sector to soon come in and start renovating other homes in the area.”

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