Choice Neighborhoods

Choice Neighborhoods Initiative 

CKG1

The City of Detroit was awarded a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation (CNI) grant in May 2021. Choice Neighborhoods is a grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), established in 2010 by the Obama administration.

The Choice Neighborhoods grant will preserve housing affordability and construct new affordable housing throughout Historic and North Corktown. The grant will focus on the redevelopment of Clement Kern Gardens, a publicly assisted property on Bagley Street between Trumbull Avenue and Rosa Parks Boulevard. With the redevelopment, Clement Kern Gardens will provide new affordable, rent-assisted units for its current residents, as well as an additional number of rental units that will be offered at varying rent levels. 

The program supports cities to implement neighborhood Transformation Plans that address 3 key areas:

Housing: Mixed income, accessible, sustainable housing options

Neighborhood: Critical improvements based on community needs 

People: Supportive services targeted to low-income residents around health. education and economic self-sufficiency

The City has spent the last year collaborating with current Clement Kern Gardens residents to understand their needs and create a shared vision for their future housing and community. 

Along with new housing and neighborhood improvements, the CNI grant would also help fund supportive services for the current residents of Clement Kern Gardens. These services would center on improving educational outcomes for children, helping households lead healthy lives, and connecting residents to job training and employment opportunities. 

Through the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI), cities leverage public and private dollars to develop strategies to address distressed public or HUD-assisted housing. The highly competitive grant program brings together residents, local leaders, and a vast array of other stakeholders to create and implement a neighborhood Transformation Plan that is focused on Housing, People, and Neighborhoods. Regardless of whether Detroit is awarded the CNI grant, the City will move forward with the overall transformation plan to create a successful, sustainable neighborhood in Corktown that is affordable to all families to live, work, and play. 

The Greater Corktown CNI Area 

Choice Neighborhoods

The Housing Strategy will:  

  • Build a neighborhood where high-quality, accessible, and diverse housing options are affordable to households of all incomes. 
  • Protect residents at Clement Kern Gardens and other affordable housing communities from future displacement through the preservation and expansion of affordable units
  • Create new mixed-income housing development at Clement Kern Gardens and throughout Greater Corktown that will meet high standards for design, safety, sustainability, and accessibility. 
  • Develop housing opportunities that will be affordable to households with incomes up to 30%, 60%, 80%, and 120% AMI and above. 

The Neighborhood Strategy will execute several Critical Community Improvements and additional neighborhood improvement projects in Greater Corktown that will:

  • Enhance public spaces
  • Create safer and more accessible streets
  • Increase resident access to services and community supports
  • Position Corktown to become one of the City’s most sustainable and resilient neighborhoods. 

The People Strategy will provide supportive services to the current residents of Clement Kern Gardens to improve educational outcomes, household health, and economic self-sufficiency. The Plan was developed in collaboration with residents, based on their expressed needs and aspirations, as well as in-depth resident surveys. 

The goals of the People Strategy are that: 

  • Households are economically stable and self-sufficient 
  • All households will be connected to primary care providers and health insurance, and residents will gain access to the tools necessary to lead healthy, active lives
  • Children enter kindergarten ready to learn 
  • Children are proficient in core academic subjects. Youth, including youth with disabilities, graduate from high school college- and career-ready

With the Choice Neighborhoods Grant, Clement Kern Gardens residents will have dedicated Case Management to connect them with supportive services, offered by over 30 partners. 
 

The City of Detroit’s Transformation Plan will include:

Housing

  • 86 replacement units for returning CKG residents
  • 65 Project Based Vouchers (PBV) replacement units for very low-income households committed by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority
  • 331 Low-Income Housing Tax Credit affordable units
  • 158 workforce units (affordable for 80%-120% AMI)
  • 161 market rate units 
  • 40 affordable homeownership opportunities 

Neighborhood

  • Developing the Ash Street Ecological Corridor with street tree plantings, installation of bike lanes, enhanced pedestrian crossings and the tactical installation of vegetative planters 
  • Improving the 14th Street Cultural Corridor, Rosa Parks Boulevard and Bagley Street
  • Enhancing pedestrian safety along Michigan Avenue
  • Developing a Community Empowerment Center at the former Owen School site that will serve a a neighborhood anchor in North Corktown and provide supportive services for residents
  • Unifying Roosevelt Park to create an 8-acre, contagious public space that will provide needed amenities and serve as a gathering space for residents
  • Integrating green infrastructure and developing active landscapes within all proposed critical community improvements 

People

Health: 

  • Connection to Primary Care Providers and other health services
  • Insurance navigation support
  • Dedicated fitness space and programming for youth & adults
  • Trained, paid Resident Champions to support peers in reaching health goals
  • Healthy food access & nutrition education 
  • Mental and emotional health support

Education: 

  • Academic Navigator support for all families with children to track enrollment and academic progress, from cradle to career
  • New Early Childhood Education Center with a blended funding model to serve all incomes
  • Wraparound early literacy services
  • Academic tutoring, enrichment & mentoring programs to support college and career readiness

Economic self-sufficiency:

  • Providing training and guidance to support the launch of residents' small businesses
  • Committed Job Specialist + slots in training programs for skilled trades, early childhood development and more
  • Workforce readiness, financial counseling, homeownership counseling and digital literacy support
  • Youth career development resources, including dedicated spots in Grow Detroit's Young Talent program

CNI Target Housing Site Clement Kern Gardens 

 

Clement Kern Gardens

The Clement Kern Gardens Affordable Housing Development is named in honor of Father Clement Kern, who served the local neighborhood parish, Most Holy Trinity, for 34 years. Due to his lifelong commitment as a community advocate for the Corktown neighborhood, he was immortalized with a statue that is located at Bagley St. and Trumbull Ave. 

The affordable housing development was constructed in 1985 on residential land that was cleared and reserved for industrial development. In the 1950s during the era of Urban Renewal, the City Planning Commission condemned much of the Historic Corktown neighborhood as “slums.” The area of the neighborhood between Bagley St. and the Detroit Riverfront was cleared and renamed “Westside Industrial.”  One of the first major projects constructed was the Holiday Inn Downtown, which is now named the Trumbull & Porter Hotel. While much of Westside Industrial project attracted new industrial development, the site directly north of the Holiday Inn laid vacant. This site was later developed into low income and senior housing and named Clement Kern Gardens. 

The Westside Industrial project created “superblocks” which disrupted the historical street grid of the neighborhood. Clement Kern Gardens was constructed on one of these superblocks, featuring 87 housing units over 7 acres. This site plan limits pedestrian connectivity and neighborhood cohesion. Segregated by design, Clement Kern Gardens functions like an isolated gated community where the residents are disconnected from the Historic Corktown neighborhood. 

It is important to the City of Detroit that the continued revitalization of Detroit include its lifetime residents. As part of the CNI process, the residents of Clement Kern Gardens have been engaged to provide input on the City's application through in-person meetings, door-to-door canvassing, phone interviews, mailings, and surveys. 

CKG August 25

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