An ambitious plan to transform the Harbour House and Eastport Terrace public housing communities in Annapolis has cleared an important hurdle.

The city and the housing authority announced in a news release this week that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development had approved their detailed redevelopment plan.

The Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant Initiative leverages public and private funds to support and create locally driven strategies to help transform struggling neighborhoods with public or HUD-assisted housing, according to the CNI website.

“I am deeply encouraged by HUD’s acceptance of our Final Transformation Plan. This marks not only a significant milestone in our journey towards revitalizing Eastport Terrace/Harbour House, but also serves as a recognition and support of our comprehensive approach to neighborhood improvement,” said Melissa Maddox-Evans, the authority’s CEO, in a press release. “We are eager to implement our strategies that focus on enhancing housing, supporting our residents, and strengthening the entire city.”

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The housing authority and the city applied for an initial planning grant in 2021. The authority was subsequently awarded $450,000 to create a redevelopment strategy, made with community consultation.

The goal is to revitalize Eastport Terrace, Harbor House and some of the surrounding areas, Maddox-Evans said.

Maddox-Evans said it has “yet to be determined” where residents would be housed during redevelopment, but they will have options available such as transferring to another housing authority site, using a voucher off-site, or moving to a vacant unit at their same site.

Some of the goals outlined in the plan include increasing the number of available homes from 357 to 715 units, with some at market rate; creating a mix of uses; improving vehicular and pedestrian access to the communities; and adding green space.

“We are proud to be a partner with HACA in developing this shared vision for a new and improved Eastport Terrace and Harbour House,” Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley said in a statement, according to the news release. “Our residents deserve quality housing, and we are now one step closer to making the dream shared by the City, HACA, residents, and neighbors into reality. We look forward to the next steps in the process and getting shovels into the ground.”

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The authority can now move on to the next stage, seeking implementation grant funds: Up to $50 million in redevelopment financing is potentially available for Harbour House/Eastport Terrace through CNI, according to the news release.

“Now we can begin the implementation phase, which is acquiring the funding and acquiring approvals for all the other elements that are necessary, which include detailed design plans, construction plans and community engagement, etc.,” Maddox-Evans said.

The housing authority and the city will begin searching for developers with experience in CNI projects to assist with design and construction plans for the site. Over the next 18 to 24 months, the authority will prepare plans and then apply for the implementation grant, Maddox-Evans said.

As previously reported, the housing authority in November received a “troubled” grade for fiscal year 2022 on HUD’s Public Housing Assessment. The total score required for the standard designation is 70; the housing authority scored 43. The assessment scored four categories: physical, financial, management, and capital fund program.

The score didn’t affect the CNI grant.

Maddox said the interim score wasn’t a surprise and the housing authority plans to appeal the score.

Royale Bonds attended Southern Illinois University. Go Salukis! She previously worked as an affordable housing reporter in Greenville, South Carolina. Royale enjoys long naps, snacking and endless scrolling on social media. She looks forward to reporting on Anne Arundel County and covering the stories that matter.

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