About the Green Impact Zone®
The Green Impact Zone initiative is an effort to concentrate resources — with funding, coordination, and public and private partnerships — in one specific area to demonstrate that a targeted effort can literally transform a community. This national model for place-based investment is now underway in the heart of Kansas City's urban core.
The project, proposed by U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, will put people and dollars to work to strengthen neighborhoods, create jobs and improve energy efficiency. The initiative includes housing rehab and weatherization programs, community policing and services, job training and placement, and health and wellness programs, all built around a comprehensive neighborhood outreach program and using sustainability as a catalyst for this transformation.
The Green Impact Zone is a 150-square block area (pdf) of Kansas City, Mo., that has experienced severe abandonment and economic decline. The zone has experienced extreme abandonment, with about 25 percent of its properties in vacant lots and another one-sixth in vacant structures. Unemployment in Kansas City, Mo., is now 11.7 percent citywide and estimated to be as much as 50 percent in parts of this zone. Fewer than half the homes are owner-occupied. Almost 20 percent of all mortgages were delinquent over the last two years. Median home prices for the area are under than $30,000.
The Green Impact Zone strategy is to transform this community to a thriving, sustainable neighborhood — not just to hold the decline at bay. To do this, the zone has assembled a core team of leaders within the neighborhood and community development organizations in the zone, as well as the programmatic, nonprofit, private, and civic leadership necessary to support a comprehensive strategy that will transform the entire zone.
Community-based approaches include:
- Innovative strategies to address weatherization of homes within the zone.
- A coordinated community policing and community services center.
- A multi-pronged housing improvement program for current homeowners and residents.
- An employment and training program coordinated both with zone activities and business interests outside of the zone.
- Development and implementation of a sustainability strategy for the zone, including energy efficiency and renewable energy sources and green solutions to water and waste water issues
- Installation of a smart grid by Kansas City Power and Light, and integration with other energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives.
- Development and implementation of an economic development strategy.
- An integrated strategy to address abandoned and foreclosed properties and vacant lots.
All of this will be supported by an intense, neighborhood organization-based outreach program and regional public, not-for-profit, private, and civic leadership support program.
It is imperative that the Zone take advantage of this federal moment by having a detailed game plan for what is to take place the first year of the Zone initiative. The game plan will have to ensure the strategic use of stimulus funds as they are made available and at the same time create a long-term sustainability strategy to carry the zone beyond the stimulus.
The game plan contains the following elements: