Revitalization Turns Blight into Thriving Neighborhood: HUD

The historic Mountain View Village community, one of Alaska's oldest neighborhoods, now offers its low income residents affordable housing and jobs.

The Cook Inlet Housing Authority's revitalization efforts prove that "specialized, high quality design doesn’t have to be expensive,” says Ann Bagley, 2014 American Planning Association Awards jury chair.

The redevelopment of Mountain View Village is improving the lives of its residents and "stimulating the surrounding local economy," according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

HUD granted the 2014 HUD Secretary’s Opportunity and Empowerment Award to the Cook Inlet Housing Authority in recognition of a redevelopment initiative that helped bring about a "dramatic turnaround" of this community.

The award, which was jointly presented by HUD and the American Planning Association, provides "measurable benefits" including increased economic development, employment, education, or housing choice and mobility for low- and moderate-income residents. 

“The remarkable turnaround of Mountain View Village is an outstanding example of how innovative thinking and the power of partnerships can transform communities,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. 

High quality affordable housing for low-to-moderate-income individuals and families is a daunting endeavor that takes organizational excellence, planning skills, "and a willingness to work with neighborhood residents and other investors,” noted Jewel Jones, executive director of the Anchorage Community Land Trust.

The developer emphasized "how creative housing, economic development, and private investments have been used" to empower a community. CIHA identified Mountain View Village as the best location to enact a revitalization program because among others it features the highest Alaska Native population in Anchorage, and had the highest level need and lowest income.

CIHA demolished all blighted, deteriorated, or vacant structures. In addition it collaborated with the Mountain View Community Council to align resources and offer citizens an active role in the planning and implementation process which included holding landlords responsible and increasing the homeownership rate.

Collaboration also helped implement an inclusive site development approach "so the housing improvements were not limited to a single block or area of the neighborhood."

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