An Interesting Critique of NRP

Linda Picone, Editor Southwest Journal

June 26, 2000

The long-awaited evaluation of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (completed more than six months later than expected - and after a structure for Phase II is all but complete) is in and it's pretty good news:

Overall, NRP did well on the goals set out for the program nearly 10 years ago. Neighborhoods got organized. Neighborhoods made plans. Neighborhoods got better.

More people got actively involved because of NRP, more people learned how to make their way through other government agencies, more people got smart.

The bottom line from the evaluation: "The NRP program has had an identifiable and significant impact on improvements in neighborhood housing investment and on residents' perception that their neighborhoods are improving."

Every time we hear a report of a neighborhood organization beset by infighting, or of NRP funds going to a questionable project, we wince. That, we know, will be taken as evidence that it's just not smart to put responsibility - and real money - in the hands of the amateurs.

The evaluation looks at the bigger picture, and it's a pretty nice picture. Involved citizens take their responsibilities seriously. They tend to push for new and more creative solutions. They know their own neighborhoods.

The evaluation is positive enough to remind us that we need to keep some kind of mechanism to allow neighborhoods to have responsibility and funds.

It's not too soon to start thinking about just what that might be, after Phase II.


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