ALBANY, Ga. -- The head of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development's Southeastern Region presented city officials Friday with a $250,000 check to begin the planning phase of a project that would transform a blighted West Central Albany neighborhood.
Albany was one of only two cities in Georgia to receive the planning funds, which will be used to create all of the pre-construction work toward revitalizing the McIntosh Homes neighborhood, a public housing project near Albany High School and Lincoln Magnet School.
On Friday, Ed Jennings Jr., HUD's Southeast Regional Administrator, presented Albany Mayor Willie Adams and Albany Housing Authority Board Chairman Frank Wilson with the check.
The city will now compete with other communities during the next year for funding to build the development, officials say.
"We're going to build something that, for years and decades to come, will say, that after almost 60 years of that place being there, that we're change and look forward for the next 60 years," Jennings said Friday. "We're going to try and put that out there ... and bring a new opportunity so that young boys and girls who grow up in McIntosh homes and the surrounding area will say, 'You know, someone cared about me at some point; someone decided that I can have something a little bit different.' "
The grant funding is part of a $4 million nationwide allocation of funding to support HUD's Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, which, according to HUD officials, promotes revitalization of areas of concentrated poverty into mixed-income neighborhoods.
Frank Wilson, chairman of the Albany Housing Authority, said that the city's success in obtaining the grant shows what is possible when people come together for a common goal.
"This opportunity demonstrates what can happen in a community when people don't care who gets the credit," Wilson said. "With this grant, what many know as the Good Life City will become the Great Life City for those living in central Albany."
The McIntosh Homes area sits between Albany High School and Lincoln Fundamental Magnet School in a general area associated with crime and street gang activity, officials said.
With the grant award, local officials say they hope to begin planning something that will improve the value of the neighborhood, both financially and socially.
"There is a need in this community and the federal government has stepped up to the plate to address that need," said Kenneth Cutts, district director for U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany. "This project will help families and children to dream of a better future and, if they can dream of something better, we can be a better country."