City leaders and Virginia Tech students to present improvement proposals in Melrose

Community meeting scheduled Monday

ROANOKE – City leaders are working to improve a high-crime and impoverished area of Northwest Roanoke.

The improvements are part of a grant program targeted around Melrose and Orange Avenues.

The City of Roanoke receives entitlement funds annually from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to address any of three national objectives; benefiting persons of low to moderate income, eliminating slums and blighting influences, and meeting urgent needs

Approximately 2 million in Community Development Block Grant and Home Investment Partnerships  funds are received from HUD each year to meet these objectives, city leaders said.

Annually, the City of Roanoke targets at least 51 percent of that grant money into neighborhoods or blocks that qualify as having a majority of its residents as low to moderate income under HUD definitions.

Generally, the city spends between four to six years in each target area.  Previous target areas assisted include West End, Hurt Park, Gainsboro, and Southeast. 

Beginning in 2015, the City identified an area known as the Melrose-Orange Target Area to be the targeted area for the next few years.

They hope this will encourage private investors to come to the neighborhood and improve living conditions.

City leaders say Virginia Tech students have been working on several projects which include building several covered bus stops, cross walks and walking paths to the library. Katherine Gray with the City of Roanoke said those projects chosen were based on community suggestions.

“It is exciting because it's something that the community wants and the community needs and it's really exciting to be able to bring something like that to fruition."

A community meeting to present the proposed changes will take place on Monday at Goodwill Industries of the Valley's at 6 p.m.

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