- Associated Press - Monday, December 12, 2016

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A $29.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Monday will seek to revitalize an area of St. Louis just north of downtown.

HUD Secretary Julian Castro was in St. Louis to announce that the city is a recipient of a grant through the “Choice Neighborhoods” program. The money will be used to improve public housing, fund social services and increase education, job training and employment opportunities in the city’s Near North Side neighborhood.

Castro said in a statement that the grants “will breathe new life into distressed neighborhoods and offer real opportunities for the families who call these communities home.”

The Choice Neighborhoods grant program began in 2010. More than 30 cities applied for this year’s grants but just five were chosen: St. Louis, Denver, Boston, Louisville, Kentucky, and Camden, New Jersey. Combined, the grants are worth $132 million.

“Together we have designed a blueprint for a strong, innovative, transformation plan that invests in housing, neighborhood, and most importantly, people to bring about positive and lasting change to the Near North Side community,” Mayor Francis Slay said.

In 2015, HUD named St. Louis city and parts of north St. Louis County as a federal “Promise Zone,” a designation that offering bonus points on applications for federal grants aimed at aiding poor neighborhoods. Also last year, Castro was in St. Louis County to announce $24 million in federal grant funding for housing developments in the county.

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