Project Reinvest opens door for continued housing, community investment in East Bank neighborhoods

  |     |   Neighborhood Revitalization

New $500,000 award will support range of housing, public art and infrastructure work

Community Housing Initiatives, CHI, has announced receipt of a new $500,000 grant award to support the Viva East Bank neighborhood revitalization initiative focused on Des Moines’ Capitol East, Martin Luther King Jr. Park, and Capitol Park neighborhoods.  The funds will support numerous targeted activities to improve housing and build community in collaboration with residents, the City of Des Moines, and the 30 partner organizations involved in Viva East Bank.

“These funds are significant because they will enable us to complete a wide range of projects aimed at visibly improving quality of life for residents. This opportunity helps us continue to have a positive impact in the neighborhoods and demonstrate progress towards our long-term outcomes,” said Amber Lynch, overall Viva East Bank project manager with the City of Des Moines.

The new funds were awarded through Project Reinvest, a specialized grant program supervised by NeighborWorks America, a national nonprofit focused on community development, that is providing $122.5 million to 55 nonprofit organizations, including CHI, to stabilize and revitalize communities suffering effects of the foreclosure crisis.

Accordingly, Project Reinvest efforts in Des Moines will be substantially focused on improvements to housing, but also a range of public art and infrastructure projects intended to boost community pride in the area. 

“By continuing to improve the quality of housing available, and making other improvements, we’re shifting perceptions of what’s possible in these neighborhoods.  More than 9,000 residents already know these neighborhoods have so much to offer, but we can create an even better experience for residents by opening the door to new investment,” said Doug LaBounty, president of CHI.

Already, Viva East Bank has leveraged about $13 million in public and private investment in the three neighborhoods.  Project Reinvest funds will be utilized by several Viva East Bank partners including Community Housing Initiatives, Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity, HOME, Inc., and the Neighborhood Finance Corporation to support a total investment package of about $2.7 million, inclusive of the $500,000 in this award.

One resident, Chelsea Lepley of Capitol Park, welcomed the announcement as a sign of continuing progress in her neighborhood. 

“We've seen Viva East Bank do a lot of coordination and bring attention to our neighborhoods. It's so important for current and potential residents to see progress, and to know so many people are working hard to make it an even better place to live," she said.­

Project Reinvest key activities

Project Reinvest will create visible neighborhood progress across the three Des Moines neighborhoods included in the Viva East Bank initiative.  Allocated funds will partially or completely support these activities:

  • Construct five new homes on lots freed up by demolition of blighted homes that could not be successfully rehabilitated.
  • Demolish three vacant, blighted houses.
  • Safely remove and replace asbestos siding on nine owner-occupied homes.
  • Install three murals on highly visible business facades.
  • Install public art in two neighborhood parks.
  • Improve a commercial façade on a major traffic corridor.

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