Our mission is to educate and empower low income residents to protect and improve our own communities through collective action.
The Public Housing Association of Residents (PHAR) was founded in 1998 and has become one of the strongest and most well-known resident organizations in the country. PHAR is the recognized “resident advisory board (RAB)” for public housing in Charlottesville. We are made up entirely by and for people living in public housing. We advocate and organize in our community for systemic changes and assist residents with improving their quality of life.
PHAR operates the nationally recognized Internship Program and runs a HUD-funded Service Coordination Program. The Internship Program engages residents in civic participation and educational workshops over a six-month period, for up to 10 hours per week. Interns learn about public housing, local government, community organizing, public speaking and more. They participate in local government meetings, providing a voice for residents in the decisions that affect their lives. Interns also are involved in extensive hands-on learning, including outreach and community organizing projects to improve the lives of hundreds of low-income Charlottesville residents. Personal goal-setting is a significant part of the program, and the Internship Program has an impressive record of success.
The PHAR also administers the Service Coordination Program which links residents with community-based services, provides referrals and supports residents to set and achieve their personal goals, including education and employment.
Summary of the success of the PHAR Internship Program
41 interns have graduated between 1999 and 2012, and the lives of approximately 2,000 public housing residents were improved because of the Interns community outreach and organizing projects. The data below is based on graduates from classes between 1999-2011. The class that graduated in October, 2012 hasn’t had enough of a chance to put their new skills and knowledge to use.
The impact of PHAR’s Internship Program is clear from the following:
Employment and Education: Over 80% of the Intern Program graduates who are eligible to work are either employed or enrolled in school at least part-time. (Almost 10% are at-home parents of pre-school children. The employment situation of one graduate (3%) who moved out of the area is unknown.)
Civic Engagement: Almost three-quarters (73%) of intern graduates between 1999 and 2011 who live in Charlottesville public housing continue to participate in the public policy arena (attending governmental meetings, providing testimonies, etc.).
Leadership: Forty percent of the interns who graduated between 1999 and 2011 and who live in Charlottesville public housing hold positions on public boards (e.g., city government, PHAR Board, MACAA Board).
Half of the individuals who graduated from the program between 1999 and 2011 no longer live in Charlottesville public housing.
Of those intern graduates individuals who live in Charlottesville public housing, over one-quarter (27%) are either senior citizens or have a disability.