The City of Monroe is looking to improve the quality of life in five targeted neighborhoods in the city.
The Monroe City Council unanimously approved a neighborhood revitalization plan to submit to the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development for five neighborhoods at Monday night's meeting.
The City's plans target the following neighborhoods: Booker T. Washington, Renwick, New Town, Ouachita Cotton Mills and Sherrouse.
The Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area program was established in 1995 by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development to address economic development and housing needs within economically disadvantaged communities.
Monroe City Planning and Urban Development director Ellen Hill said the city has not previously focused on setting a direction for neighborhood development or targeting their community development block grant monies.
"This allows us for, not only employing strategic planning and developing a framework for community investments, but it also provides a basic tool for us to collaborate with other agencies, internally with other departments but also with nonprofits and businesses in the community," Hill said.
Monroe City home ownership program: New Monroe city initiative hopes to help with first-time home ownership
Hill said the goal is economic prosperity with a focus on improving housing, qualify of life and stabilizing the neighborhoods. Hill said the city will focus on the targeted neighborhoods in two different time frames.
The first part of the plan will focus on the Booker T. Washington, Renwick and Sherrouse neighborhoods and the second part will focus on New Town and Ouachita Cotton Mills.
The process for developing for the neighborhood revitalization strategy took over six months and was based on a consolidated plan for the City of Monroe, Hill said.
"We started out through the consolidated plan," Hill said, during the meeting. "Some of you participated in our workshops when we did workshops talking about our HUD consolidated plan, but we built on that to spend time specifically looking at neighborhood areas that we targeted."
The city engaged residents from the targeted neighborhoods with outreach initiatives such as public meetings, letters followed up by phone calls, emails to area pastors and one-on-one and group interviews.
Hill said the funding for the plans includes the city's community block dollars, federal funding from the recently passed federal Infrastructure Law, grants from the Louisiana Arts Council and Junior League of NELA grants, as well as transit grants and in-kind services from community businesses and organizations.
Hill said the city will be given flexibility on how they will spend those funds in the targeted neighborhoods.
"A HOME grant that focused around housing," Hill said. "But also, we've got CARES Act funds and so those funds, for example, we've talked about a mobile library that will go between community centers, but in particular, we'll look at those community centers in the targeted area."
Mobile library: City of Monroe aims to launch mobile library spring 2022
Councilman Carday Marshall applauded the proposed neighborhood revitalization plans at Monday's meeting.
"I just want to thank you for working on this project," Marshall said. "I think it's awesome. I think it's definitely going to bless the low to moderate income residents in the community and just encourage other people to come in and develop."
The plans will now be submitted by Mayor Friday Ellis to HUD for approval. Hill said she hopes to have the submission finalized and submitted by Feb. 4. No deadline for approval has been set.
Support local journalism by subscribing at https://cm.thenewsstar.com/specialoffer.
This article originally appeared on Monroe News-Star: Monroe City Council OKs Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Plans for local neighborhoods