Kansas City wins $30 million HUD grant

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City’s oldest and arguably most run-down housing project will be torn down. Monday, Julian Castro, Secretary of U.S. Housing and Urban Development, announced a $30 million grant to replace Choteau Courts and improve the Paseo Gateway.

Kansas City was chosen as one of five winners nationwide. The others were Atlanta, Memphis, Milwaukee and Sacramento.

Mother Brigette Smith has no shortage of things wrong with her home in the community along Independence Avenue.

“The door is always falling out; it’s like how do you fall every day when you shut it?” she said.

The multi-level brick housing project was built in the 1950s.

“We have so many homeless people sleeping, barbecuing, drug using, and it’s not really safe,” Smith said.

Monday the Secretary of The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development came to her neighborhood in the Paseo Gateway, to announce the buildings will be torn down.  A multi-phased mixed income 360 unit community will be built to replace Choteau.

HUD’s secretary said Kansas City won the department’s largest and most competitive grant, by looking at more than just housing.

“What we would like to see is a community that is working together not just to improve housing but to improve job prospects, access to transit and here they are looking at it from a holistic prospective and that’s what really impressed us at HUD," Secretary Castro said.

“When you transform neighborhoods you have a positive impact on people's lives. So I think it’s going to be a positive impact on residents and their children which is really critical,” Kansas City Mayor Sly James said.

The project is supposed to be completed within five years. About two-thirds of the money will go for new housing, the other $10 million will be used to improve Paseo Gateway corridors and parks, help spur economic development, and improve public safety.

“It was actually a community working together and letting them know things need to change for us,” tenant coordinator Sebra Scrogum said.