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American Planning Association - Opportunity and Empowerment

The HUD Secretary's Opportunity & Empowerment Award honors excellence in community planning that has led to measurable benefits in terms of increased economic development, employment, education, or housing choice and mobility for low- and moderate-income residents. The award stresses tangible results and recognizes the planning discipline as an important community resource. It emphasizes how creative housing, economic development, and private investments are used in, or in tandem with, a comprehensive community development plan.

American Planning Association - Opportunity and Empowerment


Urban Horizons Economic Development Center in the Bronx, New York City

A former hospital that stood vacant for 20 years in the Morrisania neighborhood of New York City's South Bronx has become a thriving multiple-use affordable housing and economic development project. Using federal and state funds, reconstruction of the Morrisania Hospital was completed in 1997. The site, now known as Urban Horizons, is home to 132 low- and moderate-income families, a school, onsite healthcare, job training programs, and a food service enterprise that includes a culinary arts institute, a wholesale bakery, a catering company, and a retail prepared foods division.

Eight hundred elementary and middle school students attend the Rafael Hernandez Dual Language Magnet School at the site. Unemployed people in the neighborhood can receive job training or skills to start their own food catering or childcare businesses. For others, it is a place where they can obtain health care or use the gym facilities. By providing safe and secure housing and well-supervised afterschool child care, parents at Urban Horizons can concentrate on developing the skills they need to find challenging employment.

The broad range of services at Urban Horizons sets a new standard for federally funded affordable housing and economic development projects. In recognition of its accomplishments, the Urban Horizons Economic Development Center has been named recipient of the 2000 Secretary's Opportunity and Empowerment Award by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the American Planning Association (APA).

"This project shows the essential role planning plays in the success of major community undertakings such as this," said Dennis Gordon, AICP, chair of the APA's Awards Committee. "APA is honored to select Urban Horizons for this special award, which recognizes outstanding efforts to improve the quality of life for those with low and moderate incomes."