The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI) was the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) flagship redevelopment program and at the time its most significant neighborhood transformation initiative in decades. CNI supported local agencies to rebuild distressed public and assisted housing into mixed-income developments. Building on lessons from its predecessor initiative, HOPE VI, CNI mandated that affordable housing units be replaced 1:1 in any new project and that lease-compliant housing residents be able to return to new developments after they were completed.
One of CNI’s critical innovations was to extend efforts past the housing development and into the surrounding neighborhood, thereby supporting the vibrancy of the community as a place where a variety of people with different incomes would choose to live. To do so, CNI promoted a coordinated approach to local improvement, including work on public safety, educational improvement, job training, and transportation, among other areas. CNI was part of the White House’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, a comprehensive, “silo-busting” approach to community change. This portfolio included other important initiatives, such as Promise Neighborhoods in the educational domain.
The Urban Institute in partnership with MDRC led a process and a baseline study in Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Seattle.