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GARY | The city of Gary is one of seven applicants across the country to receive a Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Gary will receive $500,000 to help develop a revitalization plan for the University Park East neighborhood—an area that experiences high rates of poverty, crime, and housing vacancies.

The announcement was made at a news conference Friday morning at Gary City Hall.

“This is excellent news for Gary," said U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.

"Unfortunately, those in and near the University Park East neighborhood know far too well the effects of adverse economic and social conditions, but thanks to the resolve of so many community leaders, Gary is poised to rise again.

"I congratulate Mayor Freeman-Wilson, the city of Gary, and its partners on receiving this grant and look forward to seeing how the hard work of Gary community leaders pays off for the University Park East neighborhood and the city as a whole.”

According to the HUD report, the violent crime in University Park East is almost three times that of Gary's average rate. During this project, the city and police department will work together to come up with strategies to lower crime in University Park East.

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The neighborhood also was chosen based on its positive qualities. It is near Indiana University and Ivy Teach, and also has well-established residential and business areas.

Freeman-Wilson said as they improve University Park East, it will attract more interest of possible homeowners and businesses.

"If we focus on one area, others will come in and invest," Freeman-Wilson said. "...This will all tie in and make a comprehensive plan."

The mayor further said that being selected as a Choice Neighborhood by HUD "has further confirmed that we definitely have people locally and all the way to the White House pulling for Gary, Indiana’s comeback,” said Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. “These funds will not only help us transform a neighborhood, but we’ll change perceptions and continue to restore hope. That’s priceless.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that University Park East has continued to show steady population declines. Additionally, 23 out of the 25 schools in the University Park East area received a D or an F grade from the Indiana Department of Education.

Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants are designed to support struggling neighborhoods by facilitating the development of comprehensive revitalization plans, called Transformation Plans, through an emphasis on housing, education, transportation, and jobs. These plans bring together public and private agencies, philanthropy groups, and community leaders to carefully target resources to support the plan’s financial goals.

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