Mayor Swearengin: Federal Program Will Provide More Momentum For Efforts to Transform Older Neighborhoods
08/02/2012

Mayor Ashley Swearengin today said Fresno’s selection to participate in the federal Building Neighborhood Capacity Program (BNCP) will provide a critical boost to the City’s efforts to transform older neighborhoods.

Fresno was one of only four cities nationwide to be selected through a competitive process for the BNCP. Other cities are Flint, Michigan; Memphis, Tennessee; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Thirty cities were considered to participate in the program.

In making the announcement, federal officials said Fresno and the other communities demonstrated a high need as well as “the drive, citizen engagement, and commitment to success necessary to develop capacity around the essential elements of healthy neighborhoods.”

This announcement provides more momentum for us to help turn around some of Fresno’s older neighborhoods,” Mayor Swearengin said. “This is recognition that Fresno is a city that is serious about making a comeback. The cooperation and leadership that we’re seeing in our neighborhoods definitely has us on the right track.”

BNCP will provide intensive training and technical assistance to faith based, nonprofit and community organizations over a period of at least 20 months to help these neighborhoods design and begin pursuing results-driven, sustainable revitalization plans.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced today that the neighborhoods selected within the City of Fresno are Southwest and El Dorado Park. Through this program, the City will expand its neighborhood revitalization efforts in these two neighborhoods and will receive research and technical assistance from the Center for the Study of Social Policy. Grant funding will be used to build the capacity of residents and community-based organizations to drive the revitalization of their neighborhoods.

To carry out the grant, the City has formed a partnership with several local and public organizations, some contributing needed matching funds: the Fresno Housing Authority, Fresno County Economic Opportunities Commission, Fresno State, First 5 Fresno County, Reading and Beyond, Fresno Unified School District, City of Fresno Police Department, Fresno County Department of Public Health, United Way of Fresno County, California Endowment, Fresno Building Healthy Communities, and Fresno Regional Foundation. These partners will seek to align resources in the targeted neighborhoods to support their transformation through resident-driven efforts.

Council members who represent the El Dorado Park and Southwest neighborhoods also applauded the City’s selection for the program.

“El Dorado Park residents have worked hard to put the building blocks in place to revitalize their neighborhood,” Councilmember Larry Westerlund said. “The resources that will be available through this program will help move their efforts forward and improve the quality of life for families living there.”

“This grant will further strengthen our neighborhoods around Edison High School (Tiger Town) in Southwest Fresno by building our residents capacity to advocate their vision and needs as well as building enhanced collaboration serving the community across all lines,” Councilmember Oliver Baines said. “This is a big win for us.”

Mayor Swearengin said the City’s partners in the federal Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) program played an important role in the development of the application for BNCP. The SC2 program is a federal effort to enhance economic growth in local communities. A list of other accomplishments in the City through the SC2 program is available on the City’s website by clicking here.

BNCP is a core component of the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, which is designed to help distressed neighborhoods transform themselves into neighborhoods of opportunity by building capacity around critical elements such as public safety, education, housing, human services and health. More information about the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative is available at www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/nri_description.pdf