The St. Paul’s area in Norfolk is home to the region’s highest concentration of public housing with 1,674 aging units in three adjacent family public housing communities that have reached the end of their useful life. The St. Paul’s area experiences coastal and storm water flooding regularly which is further exacerbated by crumbling infrastructure. Crime and lack of connectivity to the rest of the city creates a sense of physical, social and economic isolation in the community.
The City of Norfolk, in partnership with neighborhood residents and the Norfolk Housing and Redevelopment Authority developed a vision for a St. Paul’s transformation designed to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty by redeveloping the area into one of Norfolk’s most desirable neighborhoods where families and residents of all income levels, races, ages and cultures can live, learn, work, play and thrive. The City and housing authority recently received a $30 million HUD grant to redevelop the first phase of this transformational project – Tidewater Gardens – the community most affected by flooding.
Norfolk has the opportunity to improve the lives of individuals living in this area of concentrated poverty adjacent to city’s key activity center and thriving downtown through this transformational project. Our goals are achieved by three key drivers:
- People First: Believing that people are Norfolk’s greatest resource, the community will invest in a human transformation plan that unlocks our resident’s ability to be economically self-sufficient, connect to maximum housing choice and contribute to the dynamic fabric of our city. Program components will include holistic family coaching that enhances life outcomes for residents around housing stability, quality educational opportunities, youth and adult development programs, employment with livable wages, job training, and health and wellness programs.
- Place Matters: Research shows that life expectancy at birth is more than 15 years lower in St. Paul’s neighborhoods than it is for residents living in the adjacent downtown corridor. Differences in neighborhood conditions and patterns of residential segregation are the causes of health inequities among different racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups. This functional isolation has resulted in a lack of access to services and opportunity for the St. Paul’s neighborhoods. The physical redevelopment will create a connected, thriving mixed-income, mixed-use community of opportunity with access to quality amenities, healthcare and recreation and open space.
- Resilience: In light of the impacts of sea level rise, Norfolk’s future lies in the city’s ability to re-imagine what it will look like to live on the coast over the next 100 years. The need to better manage water serves as a catalyst to create strong neighborhoods where all residents will thrive. The crown jewel of the re-imaged St. Paul’s neighborhood will be the transformation of the low-lands area that is often devastated by flooding into a water eco-center comprised of great parks, green spaces as well as a dynamic living laboratory to provide research, educational and recreational opportunities for Norfolk residents, the region and the world.
Due to the complexities of this transformational project and the large number of individuals who live in the project area, a mobile app would be an effective communication tool to ensure that residents receive updated, correct information about the project as a whole and specific updates pertinent to where they fit in with the transformation. Additionally, this app would allow residents to stay connected throughout the relocation process and transformation.
The City of Norfolk seeks a solution that would have the following outcomes and features:
- A user-friendly mobile app to maintain social connections between original residents of the three St. Paul’s area public housing neighborhoods virtually and serve as a communication tool to inform residents of project-related information.
- Ability to search for individuals based on their original address in the St. Paul’s area.
- Invitation feature for residents to add each other as ‘friends’ with the ability to accept or decline (similar to Facebook).
- Ability for approved friends to view phone numbers and new addresses.
- Chat/ messaging feature for conversations between residents.
- Message board feature for questions posed to the whole neighborhood and to share events and request assistance.
- Ability for users to receive pertinent information on the project based on their address including:
- Relocation phase and timeline;
- Housing voucher information;
- Housing information and options in the area; and
- Services and opportunities available through People First.
- Help feature to connect with People First staff for assistance.
- Ability for City staff to download data to track where residents relocate.
- Ability for City staff to connect with residents regarding information on opportunities and services available if needs are identified through the app.