Members Making News - December 2012

In the December 27 edition of the San Diego Union-Tribune, President and CEO Rick Gentry highlights the essential and effective role that partnerships played in the San Diego Housing Commission’s ability to expand its stock of affordable housing in 2012. SDHC created 810 additional affordable housing units by working with the city’s elected leadership and forged public-private partnerships to leverage the equity of converted public housing properties. Over the past year, the agency also strengthened and established numerous partnerships through which it helped find solutions to homelessness in the community.

The Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee’s Westlawn neighborhood is one of six American communities receiving free neighborhood design consultation in 2013 from Global Green USA with the help of a grant from the EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program. Over the next 10 months, sustainability experts will visit the neighborhood and provide comprehensive recommendations for infrastructure and policy changes aimed at helping the community build a future that is more resource-efficient, livable, healthy and environmentally responsible. (Dec 27)

By setting aside 20 Housing Choice Vouchers for participants in Project Longevity, New Haven’s new anti-gun violence initiative, Elm City Communities is offering alleged gang members in the program a chance to jump the 1,000-family waiting list as an incentive for putting down their guns. The housing authority has also launched efforts to help ex-offenders return from prison and stay out. (Dec 27)

While plans have yet to be determined for a new project the site of the former Woodson Gardens apartment complex, the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority has hired Metro Contracting & Environmental Inc. to start the redevelopment process by demolishing and remediating the old buildings on Best Street.

A December 24 article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that, for the 15th consecutive year, an “independent auditor has given the Atlanta Housing Authority a clean bill of health on its annual financial reports for 2011 and 2012.” The article also notes a number of achievements highlighted in the agencies financial documents, including completion of 258 new rental units in mixed-income communities and providing permanent supportive housing to about 550 formerly homeless households. (Dec 24)

Winter Coat Giveaway
The Philadelphia Housing Authority helped 500 public housing schoolchildren stay warm for the holidays—and the rest of the winter—by partnering with Operation Warm to provide brand-new winter coats. The organizations hoped the coats would bring both warmth and pride to the children as well as relief to struggling families during the holiday season. (Dec 21)

Late December saw the beginning of early construction work on the Trenton Housing Authority’s Rush Crossing, a 204-unit mixed-income complex. According to senior vice president of Pennrose Properties, which is overseeing the construction, “A housing development of this magnitude has not been undertaken in the city in over 10 years.” Local participation is a key component of this project, and one of the 12 local businesses invited to submit bids was selected to carry out the excavation and site development phase. (Dec 20)

The construction of eight owner-occupied townhome units in the Long Branch Housing Authority’s mixed-income Garfield Court complex further diversifies affordable housing options in Monmouth County and will complete the agency’s Hope IV project. (Dec 20)

On December 19, the Virgin Island Housing Authority held a groundbreaking ceremony on the island of St. Croix for a 40-unit senior apartment building—Phase II of the Louis E. Brown Villas housing community, which replaces a housing community destroyed by hurricanes. The ceremony also marked completion of the first phase, which comprises 102 one- to three-bedroom units that are already occupied. Executive Director Robert Graham pledged to repair every vacant, offline apartment in the agency’s St. Croix housing stock within the next 24 months. (Dec 20)

Virginia’s first public-housing based health care center opened December 17 at Young Terrace apartments, the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s largest community.  NRHA is partnering with Hampton Roads Community Health Center and Sentara Health Care to bring quality affordable health services such as wellness assessments, pediatric care, dental and other related services to lower-income households in a city that, like many urban centers, is challenged with improving indicators and outcomes for healthy lifestyles. (Dec 20)

Chester Housing Authority’s third annual Holiday Village Celebration in mid-December saw voucher recipients enjoying live music, games, food, art and rides under a packed tent. The event is underwritten by landlords who also attend this celebration of the holidays and of the relationship between CHA, the landlords, and the tenants. 

HUD announced the award of Choice Neighborhood Initiative grants to four communities, among them two CLPHA members. CLPHA congratulates the Seattle Housing Authority on the $19.73 million award, which will jumpstart physical construction of the heart of the new Yesler Terrace. CLPHA also congratulates the San Antonio Housing Authority, which has been awarded $29.75 million to revitalize the Wheatley Courts area on the city’s Eastside. (Dec 13)

Vouchers from the San Antonio Housing Authority support a number of low-income and formerly-homeless residents living at Terraces at Haven for Hope. This 140-unit complex attached to the city’s homeless shelter provides a unique form of supportive housing that is one of the first of its kind in the county. (Dec 13)

In mid-December, the Chester Housing Authority held a winterizing event at its community garden—a space where the tending and harvesting of fruits and vegetables have transformed an area once notorious for gun violence. Alongside residents of the Ruth L. Bennett Homes, volunteers from organizations across the city and state come to work in the garden. CHA has provided a number of old bikes that Swarthmore College students and Bennett residents will help to rehab for the spring season for use in distributing food donated from the garden. (Dec 12)

Make Your Money Talk Graduates
“In 2012, 225 Milwaukee residents successfully completed the Make Your Money Talk Program, a new record for us,” said Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee Secretary-Executive Director Tony Pérez. This financial education course, offered by the Housing Authority and the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation, helps move individuals towards self-sufficiency and strengthens the community. (Dec 12)

South King County schools won a $40 million Race to the Top federal grant, leading the Seattle Times to herald December 12 as “a great day for innovation and collaboration.” The King County Housing Authority joined with a broad coalition of partners to generate ideas and efforts to support students from ages 3 to 23. “The 16 winners nationwide, selected from 371 applicants, shared a common theme of being inventive and inclusive in their approach to education reforms…The housing authority, with its connection to low-income families, was an insightful inclusion.” (Dec 12)

The Housing Authority of Kansas City is nearing the end of its 20-year receivership after HUD filed a motion to dissolve the receivership and a U.S. District Court Judge ordered the Department and HAKC to reach an agreement by April 1, 2013. (Dec 12)

The Long Branch Housing Authority is nearing completion of it Hope VI redevelopment plan, which has created a mixed-income community with 238 rental units, eight homes and a community center. The redevelopment began in 2006 and was the agency’s first since the 1970s. On December 11, the first owner signed her contract for one of the news homes at Hope Lane. (Dec 12)

JPMorgan Chase Foundation has awarded $750,000 to the Seattle Housing Authority to support design and completion of the 10th Avenue Hillclimb connecting the Yesler Terrace and Little Saigon neighborhoods, and to participate in a feasibility study of a mixed-use development proposal. (Dec 11)

Denver restaurant Steuben's hosted around 350 people at its seventh annual toy drive party, collecting more than $2,200 in cash and approximately 600 toys to donate to the Denver Housing Authority. (Dec 11)

A participant in the national campaign to re-house 100 homeless veterans in 100 days in each of 15 local jurisdictions across the country, the Denver Housing Authority partnered with the VA and HUD to launch the first landlord outreach effort to end chronic veteran’s homelessness in Denver by 2015. (Dec 7)

Over 2,000 people attended the 28th Annual Senior Gala at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Chicago, the premier event organized by the Chicago Housing Authority to celebrate the energy of its senior residents. (Dec 7)

Home Tour
Elm City Communities hosted a live concert and community celebration starring singer-songwriter Mary McBride. The event was part of “The Home Tour,” founded by McBride in 2010 to “bring musical concerts to the homes of people who otherwise would not have access to live music.” (Dec 6)

The latest issue of the Journal of the American Planning Association features an article entitled, “Learning From New York: America's Alternative High-Rise Public Housing Model.” Noting that the New York Housing Authority’s long-term achievement record is largely absent from the planning literature that discredits high-rise public housing as an affordable housing planning strategy, author Nicholas Dagen Bloom “assembles and analyzes historical and contemporary materials to create a portrait of functioning American tower-block public housing.” The article discusses contextual factors and successful long-term management as key to the NYCHA's preservation of public housing. (Dec 5)

Children's Library
Residents of Houston Housing Authority’s Forest Green community celebrated the grand opening of a children's library, made possible by the agency’s non-profit affiliate, the Houston Housing Resource. Summer intern and high school student Gabrielle Mitchell, a Forest Green resident, requested the library’s creation and has organized high school volunteers to provide tutoring and homework assistance at the library twice a week. (Dec 5)

The US Department of Labor has provided the New York City Housing Authority with a $7.1 million grant to fund about 400 temporary jobs focused on Hurricane Sandy recovery. Hiring priority will be given to New Yorkers who lost their jobs as a result of the hurricane and to people who have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks. (Dec 5)