► PHAR’s members utilized the Residents’ Bill of Rights for Redevelopment to frame input in the redevelopment process. The Residents’ Bill of Rights for Redevelopment was developed by PHAR and the Legal Aid Justice Center, and adopted by the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority (CRHA) and the Charlottesville City Council in late 2008. The principles in the document ensure that resident involvement will guide all meaningful and substantive decision about redevelopment. That process has been the primary focus of PHAR’s work in 2009.
► PHAR leaders participated in the selection of the consultants who are currently leading the Master Planning process. PHAR Board members ranked proposals, interviewed applicant firms, and participated in deliberations leading to the selection of a consultant firm.
► PHAR educated and motivated public housing residents to increase engagement in the Master Plan process for Redevelopment. PHAR conducted extensive outreach before each public meeting. Our work assured that public housing residents are aware of the opportunities for input, the impact the Master Plan will have on their neighborhoods, understand how the process works, and have the information necessary to voice their preferences and concerns directly to the consultants, City Council and the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners. Paul Vaughan, PHAR’s Coordinator, spent 40 hours of dedicated outreach in one week prior to the redevelopment kickoff event to introduce the Master Planning process to the residents. Close to 200 people attended the event including 88 adult residents of public housing. Hundreds of additional hours of PHAR’s outreach supported a resident-centered planning process with participation of over 200 residents overall.
► Several PHAR Board members, Advisory Council members and staff partici-pated in CRHA field trips to visit redeveloped public housing in other cities. Twenty residents have been on the bus in each of the trips, which have included visits to Hagers-town, Maryland; Alexandria, Virginia; and Long Branch, New Jersey. Residents have appreciated the opportunity to see options to consider for the redevelopment process.
► PHAR initiated and coordinated a collaborative project with youth, bringing history and music together. By partnering with a professor at the University of Virginia, the Housing Authority, the Westhaven Community Day Planning Committee, The Bridge and Lighthouse we brought a professional folk musician from Atlanta to Charlottesville. During that week youth who live in public housing worked together to learn about the history of urban renewal in Charlottesville, created songs from the stories they heard, and then performed their songs at Westhaven Community Day on August 1st. Both the morning and evening performances were among the most popular events of the day. Page 2, PHAR Accomplishments 2009
► PHAR encouraged resident engagement in starting to discuss supportive services options. PHAR staff and Board members met with a consultant and heard presentations from students in a UVA class about their ideas for what would help residents. PHAR continues to encourage interested individuals to focus on dialogue and learn about residents’ perceptions of their own needs and available resources. Redevelopment offers the potential for neighborhood revitalization to look beyond housing upgrades, to include opportunities for residents to move out of poverty, expand educational opportunities, improve job skills and more.
► PHAR initiated a major update of our Internship Program and started a new class of interns. We collected and examined historical records, gathered curriculum input from several sources, and developed a re-vamped curriculum for the program. In October, PHAR staff and leaders began recruiting for a new class of Interns, through outreach in all public housing sites and the two largest subsidized housing neighborhoods in Charlottesville. Approximately 10 interns started in late November; they will work with PHAR for up to 10 hours a week over the next six months, learning leadership skills and becoming more involved in the community. By building civic participation, PHAR impacts the interns’ lives positively, as well as providing more resident involvement to the redevelopment process, the Housing Authority Annual Plan and PHAR’s day-to-day work. PHAR has been able to secure the funds to hire a part-time consultant to serve as Coordinator for the intern program and we have gotten off to a good start in implementing the new, more comprehensive curriculum.
► PHAR began to work on crafting a Barment Policy to update the Housing Authority’s current rules, and ensure residents’ families and friends are treated fairly and reasonably.
► PHAR Board members and staff participated in important statewide and national events. This year, one of PHAR’s founding Board members expanded partici-pation in national public housing initiatives. Stakeholders’ voices were well represented through PHAR’s leader in a meeting with HUD Secretary Donovan, communication with HUD staff about public housing vouchers, protections for resident participation, and other national initiatives and concerns. PHAR signed onto a letter calling for a moratori-um on the demolition of public housing. PHAR also participated in a discussion about a HUD grant program through a conference call with HUD, CRHA staff and Board members and other interested service providers. In addition to work at the national level, five PHAR Board members and PHAR’s Coordinator attended the Statewide Legal Aid Conference. They attended many helpful workshops, including topics such as national public housing news, community organizing, restoration of rights for ex-offenders, the school to prison pipeline and developing leadership capacity and involvement.
► PHAR publicized and supported resident involvement in the Annual Plan. PHAR’s 2009 work was focused on major redevelopment events, but we worked closely with residents through doorknocking and surveying to ensure participation and input in the Housing Authority’s Annual Plan. In addition, we coordinated with Legal Aid. PHAR will soon convey resident input about capital improvement needs and other topics to the members of the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners at their next meeting.