HARTFORD – Today, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) applauded the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for its announcement that North Hartford will be designated as a Promise Zone, where local and federal leaders will partner up to create jobs, boost economic activity, expand educational opportunities, improve health and wellness, increase availability of quality and affordable housing, and reduce violent crime in the community.
After more than a year-and-a-half long campaign initiated by Murphy to win the Promise Zone designation for North Hartford, HUD announced that the Connecticut neighborhood is one of just six high-poverty, urban neighborhoods – out of a staggering 97 applicants – in this round of awards to win the Promise Zone designation. As a designee, North Hartford will receive preferences for competitive federal programs and technical assistance, five AmeriCorps VISTA members to work with federal agencies, coordinate key stakeholders, and create programs that address the community's needs, and a federal liaison to help local leaders navigate federal programs.
Beginning in 2013, Murphy launched an organized effort with the help of Hartford’s Mayor Pedro E. Segarra, the city’s Development Services Department, the Hartford Board of Education, CEOs and Executive Directors of community organizations, North Hartford residents, and other local stakeholders to revitalize the community, and secure North Hartford’s designation as a Promise Zone. The North Hartford Promise Zone Executive Committee was eventually established, and for more than 10 months, Murphy and the Committee conducted in-depth research and hosted meetings with local stakeholders to grow support, reviewed potential sites for improvements, and compiled a comprehensive inventory of services already offered to North Hartford residents and students to identify where more federal assistance could do the most good.
On November 20th, 2014, Murphy, along with his partners on the North Hartford Promise Zone Executive Committee, submitted the final application for North Hartford’s Promise Zone designation. Days later, Murphy wrote a letter to Secretary Julian Castro of HUD, urging him to support North Hartford’s application. Most recently, on April 24, 2015, Murphy made one final case for North Hartford to win Promise Zone designation in an op-ed for the Hartford Courant.
“I dove into this effort head first after I was elected to the Senate and have worked closely with a team of community leaders and organizations every step of the way,” said Murphy. “North Hartford has a booming legacy of post-war manufacturing, where small factories and commercial enterprises employed thousands, and middle class families thrived. But in the 1960s, businesses began to move elsewhere, poverty and crime seeped in, and so began a downward spiral. I can’t overstate how important this designation will be to kids, families, and businesses owners in North Hartford. New investments – like rehabbing rundown buildings and houses into new office spaces, improving access to healthy food options for kids, and providing career development services for young adults looking to start their careers – will bring life-changing opportunities for people in North Hartford. This is a major victory for the city and one I'm especially proud of.”
President Obama announced the creation of Promise Zones in his 2013 State of the Union Address. In January of 2014, the first Promise Zone designations were announced in a ceremony at the White House. They are located in San Antonio, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The other five high-poverty urban communities to receive Promise Zone designation in today’s announcement are located in Camden, New Jersey, Indianapolis, Indiana, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Sacramento, California, and St. Louis, Missouri.