Judith Owens-Manley
(315) 859-4486

Telling the Story: HOPE VI in Utica, NY

The Utica Municipal Housing Authority (UMHA) submitted a successful grant proposal to HUD in 2003 and was awarded $11.5 million dollars, with an intent to leverage tens of millions of dollars more for city transformation. The project intent was to:

  • Demolish the Washington Courts Housing Project and relocate residents to improved housing in better neighborhoods targeted to be less racially segregated and with mixed incomes.
  • Improve a target area of the city of Utica known as Cornhill. Improvements envisioned were renovated housing and new housing rentals; opportunities for home ownership; improvement of physical appearances of homes, yards, and sidewalks; improvement of community facilities, such as schools and parks; and increased well-being in the lives of neighborhood residents.
Washington Courts, copyright Craig Grant, courtesy of Bill Bryant
Washington Courts
© Craig Grant, courtesy of Bill Bryant

On a national level, the HOPE VI program has demonstrated success in improving public housing and in de-concentrating poverty, and HOPE VI is not the sole factor leading to neighborhood change. Neighborhoods are complex entities that are affected by many factors, including the strength of the economy, government action, community group involvement, and the availability of investment and credit.

The HOPE VI project in Utica, New York is a tale of two projects. The displacement and relocation of Washington Courts residents, few of whom could ever think of buying a home due to low incomes and poor credit, had little relationship to the second project which was housing and home ownership development, including community revitalization in Cornhill.