St. Paul's Initiative
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The St. Paul’s area is home to the region’s highest concentration of public housing with 1,674 aging units in three adjacent family public housing communities that have reached the end of their useful life. The St. Paul’s area floods regularly and is further exacerbated by crumbling infrastructure. Crime and lack of connectivity to the rest of the city creates a sense of physical, social and economic isolation in the community.
The City of Norfolk, in partnership with neighborhood residents and the Norfolk Housing and Redevelopment Authority has developed a vision for St. Paul’s revitalization into one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city where families and residents from all income levels, races, ages and cultures can live, learn, work, play and thrive.
Norfolk has an opportunity to improve the lives of individuals living in an area of concentrated poverty adjacent to a thriving downtown through a public-private partnership. Our goals are achieved by:
Believing that people are Norfolk’s greatest resource, the community will invest in a human transformation plan that unlocks our resident’s ability to be economically self-sufficient, connect to maximum housing choice and contribute to the dynamic fabric of our city. Program components will include holistic family coaching that enhances life outcomes for residents around housing stability, quality educational opportunities, youth and adult development programs, employment with livable wages, job training, and health and wellness programs.
Research shows that life expectancy at birth is more than 15 years lower in St. Paul’s neighborhoods than it is for residents living in the adjacent downtown corridor. Differences in neighborhood conditions and patterns of residential segregation are the causes of health inequities among different racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups. This functional isolation has resulted in a lack of access to services and opportunity for the St. Paul’s neighborhoods. The physical redevelopment will create a connected, thriving mixed-income, mixed-use community of opportunity with access to quality amenities, healthcare and recreation and open space.
In light of the impacts of sea level rise, Norfolk’s future lies in the city’s ability to re-imagine what it will look like to live on the coast over the next 100 years. The need to better manage water serves as a catalyst to create strong neighborhoods where all residents will thrive. The crown jewel of the re-imaged St. Paul’s neighborhood will be the transformation of the low-lands area that is often devastated by flooding into a water eco-center comprised of great parks, green spaces as well as a dynamic living laboratory to provide research, educational and recreational opportunities for Norfolk residents, the region and the world.
A series of community meetings were held with residents and community stakeholders to create their vision for the St. Paul’s area. From these meetings, we developed six design principles to serve as the foundation for a re-imagined St. Paul’s.
- Create a mixed-income community with a diverse mix of residential development ranging from single-family and town homes to small and large scale multifamily for all income levels.
- Provide high-quality educational opportunities through income-integrated schools that close the achievement gap for low- income students. A transformed St. Paul’s will provide access to excellent educational opportunities in partnership with Norfolk Public Schools, five local colleges and universities located in Norfolk and early childhood education institutions.
- Include employment opportunities along St. Paul’s Boulevard through office and commercial space and the development of an anchor investment to bring people in from the broader community.
- Provide recreation and open space opportunities including active facilities offering exercise and play, walking, biking, tot lots, and playgrounds as well as passive activities allowing for enjoyment of natural areas and open spaces as well as space to hold group events such as festivals and cookouts.
- Create a connected pattern of neighborhood streets and blocks that create the framework for a mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood that replace the existing super block structure.
- Restore Church Street as the commercial, civic and social heart of the community. Church Street will be realigned and buildings along each side will be mixed-use, with ground level retail or community-serving offices.
Human Capital Transformation
This physical transformation will be coordinated and implemented in parallel with a comprehensive human capital component called People First. People First responds directly to residents’ needs as identified through community meetings, household surveys, stakeholder work sessions, and analysis of resident data.
The People First initiative is strengths-based and family focused. It seeks to address current family challenges, empower residents to lead healthy, prosperous lives, and build upon existing community strengths and assets. The program will provide effective and high-quality mobility services and human capital investment services to the approximately 1,700 families currently living in the three public housing developments in the St. Paul’s area. People First focuses on three priority areas:
- Family Counseling
- Mobility Services
- Transformative Human Service Programs
Choice Neighborhood Initiative (CNI) Implementation Grant
To jumpstart this transformational project, the City and NRHA were awarded a $30 million Choice Neighborhood Initiative (CNI) Implementation Grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Norfolk will redevelop the first phase of this transformational project – Tidewater Gardens – the community most affected by flooding with this grant.
The CNI Grant is anchored by three core goals:
- Housing – The replacement of both distressed public and assisted housing with well-managed, high-quality mixed income units
- People – Improve outcomes of households living in the target housing related to employment and income, health, and children’s education
- Neighborhood – The creation of amenities that promote public and private investments in neighborhoods that are important to residents like schools, businesses, and transportation.
To view Norfolk’s CNI application, click here.
Learn more at the St. Paul District website.