People First Empowered by USI
Family, Community & Civic Organizations Associations
The City of Norfolk made a commitment, as plans were being developed to revitalize the St. Paul’s Area, to put “people first.” An authentic commitment to this strategy requires ongoing engagement and the willingness to listen. Listening in this context is not passive. Instead, it is an active process that includes the following values:
- accurately recording feedback, and
- careful review and compilation of that feedback to ensure that the vision of the families at the center of this transformation strategically informs a community transformation plan that truly represents their needs.
Reflecting their commitment, the City of Norfolk allocated $3.5 million annually to provide high quality, comprehensive services to support families throughout the transformation process. These supportive services include health, education, and economic mobility and a focus on enhancing life outcomes for residents every step of the way. The City’s unprecedented investment was substantially enhanced in 2019 when, as a co-grantee with Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority (NRHA), they were awarded a $30 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the Choice Neighborhood Initiative (CNI) program for the transformation of Tidewater Gardens. The City of Norfolk and NRHA conducted a rigorous national search to ensure that the agency selected to lead the supportive service’s initiative had a demonstrated history of driving results with people living in communities undergoing change. A demonstrated leader in this field, Urban Strategies, Inc. (USI) was selected to lead this purposefully woven family support initiative. With USI onboard, the merger of the City’s vision with USI’s mission became People First Empowered by USI (People FirstUSI).