Community Development Block Grant
Success Stories

Kansas City, KS - Mayor Carol S. Marinovich

Northeast Area Redevelopment

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, KS has collaborated with churches, neighborhood groups and developers to redevelop the inner core of the City's Northeast area. The primary focus of the program has been to encourage homebuying and to assist existing homeowners. According to recent statistics provided by HUD, the homeownership rate in Kansas City has increased 61.9 percent. The initiative includes new construction, rehabilitation of existing units, and training programs that convert renters into homeowners. This collaborative effort has resulted in new subdivisions, safer neighborhoods, rehabilitation of existing housing stock and a new-found interest in the inner city. Local officials observe that many individuals who were originally planning to move to other areas now see the redeveloped community as a safe and desirable place to live and raise a family.

Based on the involvement of local community and faith-based groups, the Unified Government established specific goals and objectives for redevelopment within the urban core. The goals are to: 1) empower neighborhood groups and institutions to assume responsibility and leadership within their neighborhoods; 2) remove blight; 3) increase housing opportunities within neighborhoods; and 4) reestablish a sense of pride in community.

CDBG funds have served as the primary catalyst for investment, assisting neighborhood leaders in realizing their goals for the community. They have also been critical to attracting other resources: Potential partners understand the Unified Government's commitment because of the way it has targeted funds to redevelopment areas, and they see neighborhood involvement as critical to long-term change. As projects develop, residents begin to increase their own investment. CDBG's vital role in providing the foundation for much of the preliminary development work includes administration and staffing, planning and execution; filling the gaps between private and local public funding; and making possible otherwise insurmountable tasks.

Public-private partnerships have been essential to the success of the redevelopment effort, and faith-based organizations have been important partners in the effort. The Unified Government has given these organizations technical assistance in the redevelopment process because local officials believe they provide both leadership and the foundation for community values. Funding partners have supplemented the CDBG funds with private financing, low-interest loans, grants and other support. The Unified Government's partners have included local foundations, private lenders, developers, Fannie Mae, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, and community groups.

Accomplishments in the Northeast area have been both tangible and intangible. The tangible ones have included the elimination of derelict structures through the demolition of 70 abandoned buildings; new homes, with 22 of the more than 250 being planned constructed in 1998; street improvements, with three streets resurfaced; and rehabilitated homes, with four Victorian-style homes rehabilitated and sold within the Turtle Hill area. Officials say the intangibles - those things that provide a sense of security and a feeling of community - are reflected in the commitments people in the area are making to their families and their neighbors.

Contact: Brian Z. White, Program Manager, Housing and Community Development, (913) 573-5130

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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