The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative

In January 2012, HAS received a Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Planning Grant to engage the community in the planning for the East Savannah Gateway and the redevelopment of Robert Hitch Village.

The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative is a central part of the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI), an interagency partnership between HUD and the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Justice, and Treasury to support locally driven solutions for transforming distressed neighborhoods.

HUD launched the Choice Neighborhoods program in 2010 to address struggling neighborhoods with distressed public or HUD-assisted housing through a comprehensive approach to neighborhood transformation. Local leaders, residents, and stakeholders, cities, schools, police, business owners, nonprofits, and private developers, come together to create and implement a plan that transforms distressed HUD housing and addresses the challenges in the surrounding neighborhood. The program is designed to catalyze critical improvements in neighborhood assets, including vacant property, housing, services and schools.


  1. Housing: Replace distressed public and assisted housing with high quality mixed-income housing that is well-managed and responsive to the needs of the surrounding neighborhood;
  2. People: Improve educational outcomes and intergenerational mobility for youth with services and supports delivered directly to youth and their families; and
  3. Neighborhood: Create the conditions necessary for public and private reinvestment in distressed neighborhoods to offer the kinds of amenities and assets, including safety, good schools, and commercial activity, that are important to families’ choices about their community.



To achieve these core goals, must develop a comprehensive neighborhood revitalization strategy, or Transformation Plan. The 2011 Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Planning Grant awarded will support the development of a comprehensive neighborhood transformation plan, in a target area along the Wheaton Street Corridor, identified as The East Savannah Gateway. The plan will transform Robert Hitch Village and Fred Wessels Homes, and the surrounding area along the Wheaton Street Corridor. Constructed and opened in 1955, Robert Hitch Village, with a total of 337 public housing units, was one of the Housing Authority of Savannah’s oldest neighborhoods when it was demolished in 2010. A stimulus grant secured under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funded  the demolition, along with an extensive energy-efficiency renovation of neighboring Fred Wessels Homes, which includes 250 public housing units.

With the use of the CNI grant, the Housing Authority of Savannah, along with key stakeholders, who have shown incredible support and commitment, are developing a transformation plan that will be used to change the lives of public housing residents and families in the surrounding community.

This transformation will continue the positive trends like the City-led major redevelopment of the Savannah Gardens area, the County’s total mobility plan for non-motorized transit options and the streetcar proposed for Wheaton Street and Waters Avenue.

The development of the Transformation Plan, along with the leveraged funding, will be used over a two-year planning period and directed toward creating a workable and implementable plan that will create a sustainable, mixed-finance neighborhood with safe streets, good schools, accessible transportation, and training as a means to jobs.