Today’s publication of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Choice Neighborhoods Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) marks a key milestone in both the White House’s ConnectHome and Broadband Opportunities Council initiatives.  For the first time, the $10 million in Choice Neighborhood grant funding may cover both planning for and implementing neighborhood broadband and Wi-Fi.

Choice Neighborhoods is HUD’s signature place-based initiative designed to address struggling neighborhoods with distressed public housing and/or HUD-assisted housing through a comprehensive approach to neighborhood transformation. Community leaders, residents and stakeholders—including public housing authorities, cities, schools, police, business owners, nonprofits and private developers—work together to create a plan to transform distressed HUD housing while addressing the challenges in the surrounding neighborhood. Broadband is a key element in rebuilding communities, expanding learning opportunities, creating opportunities for jobs, and providing access to healthcare.

The four three-year Planning and Action Grants, available for $2 million each, demonstrate a commitment to “doing while planning.” Under the Choice Neighborhoods grant, the planning process activities occur under the first 24 months, which identifies Action Activities that will be carried out during the last 12 months. Action Activities are physical improvement, community development and economic development projects that enhance and accelerate neighborhood transformations. Neighborhood broadband and W-Fi are specifically named as Action Activities. The four applicants that score highest will each receive a $2 million grant, while the next highest scoring applicants will receive one of four $500,000 Planning Grants.

Choice Neighborhoods requires applicant to develop and implement a neighborhood revitalization strategy that seeks to replace distressed public and assisted housing with high-quality mixed income housing, improve educational outcomes and intergenerational mobility for youth, and create the conditions necessary for public and private reinvestment in distressed neighborhoods. Applicants must focus on the revitalization of at least one severely distressed public and/or HUD-assisted housing project.

While private sector entities are not eligible to apply, Public Housing Authorities, local governments, tribal entities and non-profit organization are eligible. For companies interested in taking advantage of this program, we encourage you to partner with one or more of the eligible entities to provide community Wi-Fi and take advantage of this opportunity.

Applications are due February 9.