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 began in 2009 in the heart of Kansas City's urban core.
The project, first proposed by U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, put people and dollars to work to strengthen neighborhoods, create jobs and improve energy efficiency. The initiative included 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 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. When the initiative began, unemployment was estimated to be as high as 50 percent in parts of this zone. Fewer than half the homes were owner-occupied. Almost 20 percent of all mortgages were delinquent over the previous two years. Median home prices for the area were below $30,000.
The Green Impact Zone strategy was to transform this community to a thriving, sustainable neighborhood â€” not just to hold the decline at bay. To do this, the zone 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 to transform the entire zone.
Initial 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 was supported by an intense, neighborhood organization-based outreach program and regional public, nonprofit, private and civic leadership support program.
Zone partners began with a game plan to ensure the strategic use of federal stimulus funds as they became available and seek a long-term sustainability strategy to carry the momentum.
The Green Impact Zone worked with neighborhood leaders and residents to develop a vision and set of principles to guide the initiative. The neighborhoods also helped identify specific strategy areas that were most important to them.