Resident Training: RAD-What Residents Need to Know January 23

RENTAL ASSISTANCE DEMONSTRATION

aka
RAD
Want to Learn More about RAD and how it will affect residents in public housing?

Learn More from a Resident Perspective!!!

Join Ed Gramlich from the
National Low Income Housing Coalition and PHAR for:
“RAD- Key Features for Public Housing Residents”
a training and question and answer session focused on
resident rights, responsibilities and concerns.

Thursday, January 23
2:00 pm
and again at
5:30 pm
City Hall in City Council Chambers
(across from free speech wall, second floor city hall)

logo

Posted in Uncategorized.

Support PHAR in 2014- Make Your Donation Today

Greetings, this holiday season of giving.  This is a time of the year when many reflect on how fortunate they are, and are more conscious of those who are not as fortunate and want to do more to help them.  It is a time when we also look forward to a better year in 2014.

Visit us on-line to make your contribution.

Our town, a beautiful city of national historic significance is home to a diverse population of social, economic and ethnic backgrounds and the University of Virginia (UVA).  The attractiveness of Charlottesville and UVA, have brought many to our city, increasing both the demand for housing, and housing costs that have most adversely affected the affordable housing available to low income households.

Affordable housing for many low income families in Charlottesville is Public Housing – 376 units managed by the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority (CRHA). To provide a voice for Charlottesville public housing residents in the decisions that affect their lives, The Public Housing Association of Residents (PHAR) was founded fifteen years ago.

PHAR has progressed to become one of the strongest and most well-known resident organizations in the country. PHAR’s governing board is made up entirely of people living in public housing. PHAR’s Advisory Council is made up of other community partners. PHAR’s mission is to educate and organize low income people to protect and improve our own community through collective action. PHAR advocates and organizes in our community for systemic changes and assists residents to improve their quality of life.

PHAR’s programs and activities positively impact the lives of residents of public housing:

  • The six month Internship program develops individual advocacy and leadership skills: Interns learn about public housing, local government, community organizing and public speaking. Graduates of PHAR’s intern program serve on local and national boards. More than 80% of intern graduates (excluding elderly or disabled) find employment or continue their education. Last year an intern graduate and his family celebrated their first Thanksgiving in their new Habitat home.
  • The Residents’ Bill of Rights ensures that residents can return after completion of any CRHA redevelopment.
  • Residents are represented at and encouraged to attend City or CRHA meetings affecting public housing in Charlottesville.
  • Residents are informed of any prospective policy changes affecting their tenancy and the consequences of these changes.
  • PHAR’s Resident Opportunities and Self-Sufficiency (ROSS) Program links residents to community educational and job training opportunities and supportive services that promote independence and self- sufficiency and help elderly and disabled residents age in place.

Whether it involves attending meetings or issuing newsletters, brochures or speaking engagements, PHAR seeks to inform residents, community groups, legislators and social policy makers about the current needs, problems and accomplishments of Charlottesville public housing residents.  Our ultimate aim is to demonstrate that all citizens are important and can play a role in making a community active and viable.

Your contribution goes directly to supporting our efforts to achieve socially just public policy that assures people with the lowest incomes in Charlottesville have affordable and decent housing. We are not a United Way funded agency.  Contributions to PHAR are tax deductible.

Visit us on-line to contribute via PayPal.

…or mail a check made out to Public Housing Association of Residents to:
PHAR
1000 Preston Ave, Suite C
Charlottesville, VA 22903

Thank you for your support. Your generosity and kindness is much appreciated.

Happy Holidays!
Sincerely,

Sabrina Allen                                  Shymora Cooper                                      Jane Foster
Intern                                          Board of Directors                                  Advisory Council

Posted in Uncategorized.

NO R.A.D. in 2013- comments from Oct. 28

PHAR’s submitted comments about RAD.
Say No to RAD in 2013 !!!

To: CRHA Board of Commissioners and Executive Director Constance Dunn
Re: PHAR Initial Comments and Questions regarding RADSabrina 10.28 CRHA

PHAR seeks to protect and improve our own communities. We acknowledge that the disrepair of public housing in Charlottesville demands serious efforts towards redevelopment. However, the state of disrepair is a result of decades of neglect, and a lack of local and national support for serious and meaningful redevelopment and capital improvement. It is with this understanding that we offer some preliminary and initial comments, concerns and questions regarding Rental Assistance Demonstration.

To be clear, we are opposed to any application for RAD in 2013.

Process
RAD presents a huge shift in how public housing in Charlottesville is funded and operated. In fact, it eliminates “public housing” and replaces it with another model. That model, we are told, is based on how private housing would work. With the conversion comes many changes in policies, requirements, accountability, and drastically impacts the future of affordable housing. These changes are radical, and require a community wide discussion about the possible ramifications and application of RAD in Charlottesville.

That discussion has not happened. Any serious process regarding redevelopment needs to adhere to the unanimously adopted Residents Bill of Rights for Redevelopment. The simple first steps and groundwork for considering such a huge change would have been to educate residents first, and then approach PHAR for initial conversations about how this could, or could not, be applied in Charlottesville and how it compares to other funding options. A serious conversation about the need for funding redevelopment should begin with multiple funding options, not with only one option. From there a process should be crafted jointly which provides for more than token resident input into predetermined results. Residents ultimately should have the final say in whether a change of this magnitude is take place. Unfortunately, the rush to investigate and inform came from the top down with no initial input or discussion with residents or the duly elected advisory board. We understand that HUD does not require this kind of resident led planning, but we expect Charlottesville to meet the minimum requirements laid forth in the Residents Bill of Rights, but to also strive to go above and beyond the low bar set by HUD in regards to resident participation into matters that affect them gravely. Even now, despite the CRHA stating that it would not apply for RAD in 2013, and amid the Executive Director’s notice for applying for RAD, there have been no discussions with PHAR or residents about how this could be applied or if it is necessary, determine desired outcomes, or “setting a meaningful and enforceable process” to guide “substantive decisions about redevelopment”. To be clear, resident participation in such a major change must go beyond a handful of resident meetings where no specific information is offered and no questions are answered much less any response or reflection of resident concerns. Residents are still trying to get questions answered. Until those questions are answered there is no way to give concerns. In most instances residents don’t know which questions to ask. Training on RAD has been limited as far as public participation is concerned. We ask for more training that is resident friendly and allows all members of the public to participate and ask questions.

PHAR is encouraged by the recent agreement to have a series of information sessions for residents run jointly by the City of Charlottesville, CRHA, and PHAR.

We recommend that those information sessions should not be considered “resident meetings” under the HUD process for a RAD application submission. Rather, they should be a point at which residents can begin to formulate questions and ponder concerns, with the “resident meetings” to be held at a much later date. These information sessions will not produce fruit until more training is available.

We understand the rush to apply before 2013. The 93% subsidy lock-in is meaningful (although that in itself leads to many questions). However, two months is not enough time for the CRHA to perform even a semblance of due diligence, meet the HUD requirements for reporting, include a meaningful resident participation process, and preparing for the rigorous and speedy requirements expected once approval from HUD is given. Simply put, residents are unprepared, PHAR is unprepared, CRHA staff is unprepared, and the CRHA Board of Commissioners is unprepared to make a decision that impacts that future of publicly protected and affordable housing in Charlottesville. A great deal of work for the application is necessary, an even greater amount is necessary once approval is given. We are told that RAD could be stopped at any point if residents do not want it. We appreciate the sentiment, but the 2013 annual plan has already addressed this and it reflects one of many promises made by CRHA broken.

Residents are speaking now, the message is clear: Do Not Apply for RAD in 2013.

In summary, a process that might work if we were to all take a step back might include;

–          Initial discussions about the need for funding redevelopment that involves all options;

–          Setting a mutually agreed upon process for determining resident approval;

–          Consensus on whether or not RAD is an acceptable option to consider;

–          Initial workshops and information sessions about the need for the funding, and some potential benefits and negatives concerning RAD;

–          Followed by trainings for staff, city, PHAR and residents;

–          More workshops and info sessions for resident guided outcomes;

–          Followed by CRHA and PHAR consensus to pursue RAD further and issue public notices;

–          Information sessions at all of the sites at multiple times explaining potential RAD specifics  in Charlottesville and based on past resident input;

–          Public comment;

–          Followed by multiple “resident meetings” exceeding HUD requirements;

–          Polling of residents;

–          Responses and adjustments to questions and concerns;

–          A final poll of residents determining support or non-support.

If this process were to begin now, the results of the City Manager’s stretch objectives should be known and incorporated into any process or decision making regarding RAD.

This is workable process, but which cannot be performed in haste before the December 2013 deadline. In any event, no process should be taken with a predetermined outcome, and no process however good can ensure PHAR or resident support for RAD moving forward.

Uncertainties

The conversation around RAD has been riddled with uncertainties. Some of the uncertainties are based on questions about HUD/RAD process and administration. Others are related to the specifics of how, where, and when RAD would be applied in Charlottesville. Other uncertainties surround the impacts on current and future residents, and the effect on affordable housing in Charlottesville. Without clear answers to questions, specifics of the program in Charlottesville, and clear and enforceable commitments and guarantees from the CRHA and the City of Charlottesville we see no reason to support RAD in any form. The pitfalls are too numerous to mention, and plenty that we are yet unaware of. Uncertainty is a dangerous place to put low-income residents of Charlottesville in and a terrible place to leave the city when it comes to long term protection of affordable housing.

There will be no PHAR support of a RAD application with the following uncertainties left  unaddressed:

–          Agreement between CRHA, the City of Charlottesville, the CDC, and PHAR that all redevelopment funding options have been explored;

–          A relocation plan must be communicated, agreed to by residents, and detailed fully before any RAD application is submitted;

–          Enforceable commitments to protect the converted units as affordable in perpetuity must be given before any RAD application is submitted;

–          Enforceable commitments that the “de minimus” will not be used;

–          Enforceable commitments that public housing sites will remain where they are;

–          Details, including income levels and numbers of units, regarding potential mixed-income development and de-concentration strategies;

–          Clarity and details on all aspects of submission requirements, including those required once approved, before an application is considered;

–          All details regarding funding, investors, timelines and tax credits must be known before any RAD application is submitted;

–          All details regarding changes to resident protections, leases, processes communicated to residents. All differences between the current ACOP and a future Section 8 administration plan known, and processes in place for public participation in the crafting of these plans;

–          Clarity on the waivers of HUD regulation that CRHA will seek must be known before an application is submitted.

–          Clarity and agreement on how RAD affects City of Charlottesville planning for affordable housing, including but not limited to the SIA before any RAD application is submitted;

–          Clarity and details regarding oversight, accountability, and jurisdiction by HUD, the Virginia Landlord Tenant Act, the CRHA, and the City of Charlottesville;

–          Clarity and agreement on the makeup and function of the CRHA Board of Directors;

–          Enforceable commitments to include resident participation in CRHA governance by way of resident commissioners;

–          Results of the City Manager’s stretch objectives known before an application is considered;

–          Results of a social impact study known before any RAD application is considered;

–          Strict adherence to the Residents Bill of Rights for Redevelopment in spirit and in law;

–          Final decision making authority in the hands of residents;

–          A mutually agreed upon process for meaningful and enforceable process.

The above are initial uncertainties that once addressed do not ensure PHAR support of RAD. They are the bare minimum by which we would consider support of a RAD application.

Potential Negative Impacts

PHAR is concerned about every aspect regarding RAD. RAD represents a substantive change for public housing. This is quite literally the most important decision regarding public housing in Charlottesville since urban renewal. The consequences of Vinegar Hill are well documented, and the effects still impact the community negatively 50 years later. PHAR will not support any program in public housing that may recreate or re-formulate the disaster that was urban renewal in Charlottesville. Our concerns are many, but a few are highlighted here:

–          Bad process. As mentioned above, the process thus far has been inadequate. Questions linger, decisions seem to have been made from the top down, and the rush to submit an application is underway. This is not a responsible way to seek to improve a community. The residents Bill of Rights has been violated already when it comes to participation, and many aspects of RAD point to possible violations of other parts of the Bill of Rights. We have a hard time trusting a housing authority that has such a bad track record at abiding by the Residents Bill of Rights. A RAD program in Charlottesville will become a nightmare if residents are not driving the discussion, planning, and decision making including the financing.

–          Loss of affordable housing. Currently, despite its flaws and underfunding, the 376 units of public housing remain the only existing affordable housing that is protected forever. The RAD conversion sets a potential timeline for the reduction of Charlottesville’s affordable housing stock, leaving uncertainty as to whether at least 376 units will remain affordable in this rapidly changing city. Tax credits run out, mistakes get made, mortgages and contracts expire. Despite HUD assurance about the renewal of these contracts, there are many holes and ways that protections could disappear. In 15, 20, 30, or 40 years decisions could be made to eliminate these units as affordable, or to relocate affordable units to other parts of the city. UVA has a growth plan, known by the city of Charlottesville, that seeks to have the housing market address student, faculty and staff housing close to the University. While this may not be in the immediate plans, decades down the road the property at Westhaven will be especially enticing to developers. With protections removed the entire community at Westhaven could be dramatically changed or the very least, turned into market rate. While SIA follows a different model, the uncertainty and potential vulnerability of CRHA units in the SIA could face a similar fate. While there may still be a place for affordable housing in Charlottesville, communities would be dispersed and dismantled. It wouldn’t necessarily happen overnight, but decades down the road decisions will be made. If the units were to remain public, they would be protected from these decisions.

–          Income targeting and household composition. By converting under RAD the CRHA could change its income targeting to include those with higher incomes. Further, if the 50% conversion per development were to be waived, the potential for shutting out very-low income families in favor of elderly and disabled units would leave hundreds out of accessing affordable housing in Charlottesville.

–          Mobility vouchers. A dangerous incentive to consider. HUD promotes the idea of this allowing residents a choice to move if they do not like the new system under RAD. However, if the vouchers are unavailable, as they are now, it is hard to see how this would work. Further, if a large number of current residents were to take advantage of the mobility vouchers, those at the bottom of the list will continuously remain at the bottom of the list. There are many questions surrounding the coordination of the current Section 8 waiting list and a waiting list under RAD. While the public housing waiting list is long, the Section 8 list is shut down almost perpetually. Mobility vouchers will not do anything to reduce either waiting list, and will have the effect of keeping the waiting list closed in perpetuity, with those waiting the longest still waiting. RAD, the mobility vouchers, and the combined waiting lists will have no positive effect on reducing the numbers of families seeking affordable housing in Charlottesville.

–          Regulation and Oversight. The full impacts of the changes from HUD oversight and regulation are yet to be known. The housing authority will no longer report to HUD in depth the way they do now. The ACOP will be replaced with an administration plan. The differences in these plans, regulations governing them, and public input into policies are not fully detailed. RAD funding should not be a backdoor to eliminating resident protections or benefits. Conversion could also mandate a change in CRHA Board governance, appointments, composition, and function. The details of governance are not known to anyone at this time. The City of Charlottesville is currently reviewing how it might improve the functioning of the housing authority, the results of this review should be know before a RAD application is submitted, and the administration of the RAD program needs to be understood and integrated into the City Manager’s proposals.

–          Funding Alternatives. PHAR believes that a full understanding about all of the options for funding redevelopment does not currently exist. RAD is only one option. Discussions have been had in the past regarding what options there are for funding redevelopment. The CDC was supposed to have played a role in this decision. Creative thinking and alternatives need to be explored. How do we know that RAD is better than other options. We will not be able to answer that question until we know details on the property values, potential ways to develop undeveloped land, potential partnerships and other types of leverage. PHAR stated, as a compromise regarding the SIA, that we consider two options for funding redevelopment: conversion or project based (RAD) and a private style model, or using leverage and mixed-income and retaining public housing. Our choice remains retaining the 376 units as public housing and protected affordable housing.

–          Relocation. The next step in any of the progress on redevelopment needs to be relocation. Any decision about funding will need to rely on what the CRHA’s approach to relocation is. This affects all aspects of redevelopment, but especially capital items. An understanding of demolition of renovation cannot be had until a basic understanding and agreed upon plan for relocation has occurred. Our original understanding was that Levy Avenue would be developed first as way to handle relocation while renovation or rebuilding at the other sites was underway. Is this still the plan? RAD seems to negate the efficacy of this plan. The details of this plan must be known by residents, it is the number one concern outside of “right to return” that residents have. Relocation cannot be known or agreed to until the specifics and makeup of redevelopment of existing sites is known and understood. Without a relocation plan a RAD application puts the cart before the horse.

Attached is a list of questions. We demand that these questions are answered and considered by CRHA Commissioners. It is not a comprehensive list, merely a start. One can easily see that these are too many unanswered questions to be able to make a decision on RAD. Thus, we find that making a decision about RAD in haste is poor judgment and bad stewardship of public housing in Charlottesville. We will certainly have more questions. We warn against using HUD process concerning responses to our concerns and questions allowing for token input into predetermined outcomes. Our opposition to a RAD application 2013 is two-fold and simple:

1.      We don’t have all the answers to some of the questions.

2.      What we do know is unacceptable.

We ask that the CRHA table this conversation on RAD, to not apply in 2013, to begin an open and thorough evaluation of all funding options for redevelopment, respect and coordinate with the City Manager’s stretch objectives, and re-start a process for establishing the CDC.

Posted in Uncategorized.

Say No to RAD Application- Monday Oct. 28

Public Housing in Danger?

Stand Up for Affordable Housing and Smart Decision Making!

CRHA Meeting

Monday, Oct. 28
7:00 pm
City Council Chambers
in City Hall


RAD is “Rental Assistance Demonstration”
A voluntary HUD program that will
change all or some of public housing in Charlottesville by converting to project based Section 8 housing. CRHA is in a rush to make a big decision about the future of public housing in Charlottesville that could be a disaster for residents!

Please Attend this meeting to make sure CRHA won’t make a bad decision that will hurt communities and eliminate protected affordable housing in Charlottesville!

more info here

TELL THEM: SLOW DOWN! No application for RAD until all the information is in and residents know the full impact on our communities.
DEMAND: Meaningful Resident Input and a full list of Alternatives to RAD before a decision is made!

 CRHA WILL WAIT TO APPLY IF RESIDENTS STAND TOGETHER! BE THERE!

What does RAD mean for my public housing?

–       Conversion of all or some public housing, to
“project based vouchers” or “project based rental assistance”

–       Sets a timeline, 30 to 40 years for the eventual elimination of 376 units of protected affordable housing

–       Uses a private model for operating your housing

–       Changes to leases, and changes to income targeting in favor of higher incomes – who will be left out?

–       More power and authority in the hands of property managers, less oversight from HUD

–       Possible elimination of 18 units all at once

–       No meaningful Resident Input- decisions have already been made!

  • CRHA Commissioners should not rush this process!
  • Once an application is accepted they will have to move fast to have all the plans for redevelopment in place.
  • Redevelopment needs to be thought through, and residents need to be informed and guiding the process, NOT serving as guinea pigs for an experiment!
  • Commissioners have said that RAD will not move forward if residents don’t want it. Hold them to their word!
  • There are too many uncertainties about negative impacts on current and future residents;
    no decision should be made now!


…Stay tuned!
PHAR is working hard to protect and improve public housing in Charlottesville- stand up for your homes!

for more info, and to receive action alerts e-mail: brandon@pharcville.org

Posted in Uncategorized.

RAD Update- Process Slowed for Now?

Despite a furiously fast start from the housing authority to convert to project based vouchers by way of RAD, the process is slowing down. Thanks in great part to the many of you who have gotten involved quickly, attended meetings, and expressed shock at the rapid move to eliminate public housing as we know it in Charlottesville!

The two remaining “resident meetings” regarding RAD have been cancelled. (no more 10/14 or 10/16 meetings).

CRHA, City Officials and PHAR leaders met Friday to discuss concerns. Despite the myriad problems associated with RAD, a more resident focused approach has been agreed to. The CRHA, along with the City of Charlottesville and PHAR will co-host a meeting later in the month to present much more information to residents and the public. We hope this will also include Charlottesville specific information, and will gain “meaningful and enforceable” resident input into the conversation.

This does not mean that PHAR supports RAD!

Nor does this mean that the danger has passed. CRHA still seems intent on applying for RAD and stands by it’s belief that the process can be stopped at any time.
We at PHAR remain skeptical. Once an application has been submitted and approved, the HUD timeline begins leaving residents and the broader community in much the same shape that it is in now- in a hurry to determine the future of public housing and redevelopment.

Here’s how it breaks down:
Application submitted
60 days for HUD to approve or deny
If approved the CRHA has 60 days to amend the annual plan to include RAD
6 months to gather all of the financial, physical, environmental, and community information and submit a plan, including for relocation.

One can see that this still leaves very little room for resident, and community input into decisions regarding public housing, and the future of affordable housing in Charlottesville. CRHA says it could stop the process in the time frame, this is true but still leaves us all making critical new decisions once the application has been submitted, albeit with some more information to chew on.

Over the past week, thanks to resident questioning and solid (and fast!) PHAR organizing, we have come to have a few questions answered about how RAD might be implemented in Charlottesville.
– Project Based Vouchers (rather than Project Based Rental Assistance)=>
*means CRHA would remain the landlord
– All 376 units would be converted=>
*if Family Self Sufficiency could remain as “supportive services” along with more elderly and disabled units being earmarked
– “silent” investors only

…and that’s about it. The above concepts for use in Charlottesville have not been determined by anyone, and alternatives could be considered before passing judgment.

Alternatives to RAD for funding of redevelopment should also be considered before passing judgment!

We are glad to see the City of Charlottesville getting involved, this is a community issue and the City needs to remain involved. We hope that both the city and the CRHA will commit to guarantees, and stand by their promises.

So far the CRHA has broken many promises made to residents.

Despite the slowing of the process, we still have major concerns about RAD:
– Public Housing Program rules and regulations will no longer apply, less oversight, less accountability, more uncertainty about the future
– Expired mortgages, contracts, and tax credits sets a timeline for the possible elimination of the converted units as protected, affordable, income based, housing
– New applicants may face stricter eligibility requirements
– Higher income targeting combined with less units for families could mean less units available for very low income people in the future
– Uncertainty about Board of Commissioner accountability
– More power in the hands of property managers
– Still no relocation plan!
– Potential “de minimus” loss of up to 18 units
– “Mobility Vouchers” for residents who wish to move could be unavailable, other vouchers for other housing programs reduced due to the stress of the mobility voucher option after conversion. (yes, we know it is confusing!)

How To Remain Involved
– Stay tuned and remain alert!
– Attend the informational meeting at the end of the month (tba)- and ask questions!
– Attend the October 28 meeting of the Housing Authority, speak about your concerns
*Don’t forget to wear your red PHAR t-shirt!
– Stay updated at www.pharcville.org and follow us on facebook
– Share this and future posts from our website!
– Write a letter to the editor:
Daily Progress
C-Ville Weekly- e-mail editor@c-ville.com

Write CRHA Board of Commissioners, copy and paste these e-mails=>
Keith@WoodardProperties.com; hosea.mitchell@varian.com; huja1@comcast.net; cgreene@ahipva.org; julie.c.jones@comcast.net; titatalbert@gmail.com; rizing2ttop@yahoo.com

Feel free to contact PHAR at any time!

Thanks for your support of residents and PHAR!

Posted in Uncategorized.

CRHA To End Public Housing This Month? RAD is coming!

No More Public Housing in Charlottesville?

 Resident Service Meeting and Meeting about RAD (Rental Assistance Demonstration)

THURSDAY, Oct 10
1:00 pm and 5:30 pm
Westhaven Community Center

What is RAD?

RAD is “Rental Assistance Demonstration”
A voluntary HUD program that will
eliminate all or some of public housing in Charlottesville! CRHA has a plan, but no one knows what it is.
All we know is that they plan to apply for RAD at the end of this month.
Do you want the future of your housing to be decided by 7 people in one month?

learn more here
criticism of RAD and health impacts here

Find out more at the Resident Services Meeting at
1 pm and the RAD meeting at 5:30 pm Thursday 10/10

What does RAD mean for my public housing?

–       Elimination of all or some public housing,
converted to “project based vouchers” or “project based rental assistance”

–       Sets a timeline, 30 to 40 years for the eventual elimination of 376 units of protected affordable housing

–       Privatizes your home- who will be YOUR landlord?

–       Changes to leases, and changes to income targeting in favor of higher incomes – who will be left out?

–       More power and authority in the hands of property managers, less oversight from HUD

–       Possible elimination of 18 units all at once

–       No meaningful Resident Input- decisions have already been made!

…Stay tuned!
PHAR is working hard to protect and improve public housing in Charlottesville- stand up for your homes!

Other meetings regarding RAD:
Monday 10/14/13 at 5:30 PM –
South First Street Community Center

Wednesday 10/16/13 at 1:00 PM –
Crescent Hall Community Center

Monday 10/28/13 at 7:00 pm CRHA Meeting to Discuss RAD-
City Hall in Council Chambers

Posted in Uncategorized.

PHAR Internship 2013 !!!

Now recruiting for the

PHAR Internship Program!

 Do you care about your community? Want to learn how to make a difference?

  • Develop your leadership skills, knowledge and involvement
  • Earn 11.50/hour stipend.
  • Commit to work up to 10 hours a week.
  • Program lasts for 6 months, starting in about 3-6 weeks.
  • Public Housing and Section 8 Residents can apply

Call PHAR at (434) 984-3255 to schedule an interview,

OR see print the application InternApplication2013 and bring or mail to:

PHAR Internship
1000 Preston Ave, Suite C
Charlottesville, Va 22902

Here’s the application-InternApplication2013

Posted in Uncategorized.

Questionnaire for City Council Candidates

PHAR Questionnaire for City Council Candidates!
We have received the following responses to our questionnaire, listed in the order in which they were received, more candidate answers posted when they arrive-

Melvin Grady 5/31 11:29 pm
1) As a City Councilor, what will you do to improve the responsiveness of the Housing Authority to residents, in terms of eviction prevention, maintenance, customer service, and the many other serious issues that residents have brought to CRHA’s attention?

As a City Councilor, I would  insure that the HA is equipped with members that understand the rules, regulations, and the respect that is stated and implied in the framework of the CRHA’s current parameters.

2) How well do you think the current CRHA administration (staff and Board) are handling the challenges facing the Housing Authority?  Do you believe we need a change in leadership (or at least a change in course) at CRHA or do you believe things are heading in the right direction under the current leadership?

The current CRHA administration does not seem “connected” with the challenges facing the HA, according to current members of the HA.  Either a change in leadership, or a change in direction, needs to occur at CHRA immediately.

3) More and more cities are allowing residents of public housing to choose who will represent them on their Housing Authority Boards by way of direct elections for resident commissioners.  If such a proposal were to come before Charlottesville City Council, would you be inclined to support it?  Why or why not?

I support direct elections for resident commissioners from public housing residents alongside at-large seats.  I believe this would help include all parties involved in the current issues at hand.

4) Do you support the Residents’ Bill of Rights for Redevelopment and will you insist that CRHA honor each and every commitment in the Bill of Rights if and when it proceeds with redevelopment of public housing?

Yes and yes!  I will make sure that the pledge stated is adhered to with the backing of all legal and implied “powers” bestowed to me as a City Councilor.

5) Previous Councils have consistently supported PHAR’s organizing campaigns, policy suggestions, and funding. If you are elected, will you support PHAR’s mission and continue funding for PHAR and champion our cause with your colleagues?

I have, and continue now, to support PHAR.  As a citizen who has had family members live in Charlottesville public housing, I know that PHAR cares for the well-being of each and every resident in public housing.  Words sound nice, but action is better!  I am about action!

6) As a City Councilor, will you support the City’s Living Wage Policy (for both City employees and contracted employees) and urge major employers in the area, especially UVa and its contractors, to adopt similar policies, so that no one who works full-time in our community has to live in poverty?

This question is overstated and the results are long overdue.  A living wage should be a human right for everyone on this planet, especially in a “Number 1 city as Charlotteville.”  The opposite of a living wage is a non-living wage, in which too many our citizens live under today, and find themselves not self-sufficient.

7) Charlottesville has proclaimed itself a ‘City of Second Chances”. As a councilor what will you do to increase opportunities for successful re-entry of ex-offenders into our community and re-energize the city towards addressing the needs of ex-offenders in Charlottesville?

As an ex-offender myself, I can personally relate to the city giving me a second chance to be successful as a teacher in our public school system.  If the city had looked at my driving record as a end all to my career, I would not be able to promote my constant theme to my students to keep moving forward even after adversity.  Everyone needs second, third, even forth chances, to bring out the best in themselves for the good of others.

8) What are your thoughts or concerns about the Human Rights Commission? What would you like to see the commission work towards in terms of addressing institutional racism, and gender and racial discrimination on city boards and commissions?

I believe the HRC is needed to address any discriminatory practices that still exist in our city.  Charlottesville as a city, has been deeply rooted in discriminatory practices.  And if discriminatory practices, of any kind, still exist, they must be addressed.  Just as someone breaking the law must be addressed, so must discriminatory practices be addressed.  But the goal should always be education first, so that understanding and fairness can be reached, if possible.

9) What is the usefulness of the Strategic Investment Area? Do you think the Residents Bill of Rights for Redevelopment applies to the Strategic Investment Area? How do you feel about “de-concentration” of poverty strategies in Charlottesville, will this strategy dilute and disperse public housing communities in the area?

First, the Residents Bill of Rights for Redevelopment should definitely apply to the Strategic Investment Area.  Second, if residents are in favor, there should be no “de-concentration” of poverty in Charlottesville that will disperse established communities already in existence.

10) What will you do to increase employment opportunities for residents of public housing in Charlottesville? How do you plan to bolster the Section 3 program and increase employment for residents (as opposed to just providing training)? Do you have a broader jobs and anti-poverty approach that doesn’t rely solely on job training and small business support?

I would personally, with the help of City Council and the community as a whole, seek to attract large businesses to our community that has a need for skilled workers that doesn’t required BA degrees, and pays at least a living wage to support a family to live in Charlottesville.  Training is not enough if the job opportunities don’t exist.  Job training is definitely needed.  But the jobs must be available after the training.
###
Kristin Szakos 5/29 11:35 pm

1) As a City Councilor, what will you do to improve the responsiveness of the Housing Authority to residents, in terms of eviction prevention, maintenance, customer service, and the many other serious issues that residents have brought to CRHA’s attention?

Maurice Jones and Aubrey Watts are working hard to open communications with CRHA staff and residents to work out long-term solutions both to the immediate issues and to systemic problems with CRHA that have persisted for many years.  I am keeping a close eye on this process, and have hope that it will help.  I have had several meetings with CRHA staff and board members, as well as residents, and hope they all will give this process a chance.  The problems at CRHA have been around for many years – and won’t go away without everyone working together to make it happen. There are folks who are eligible for public housing who are on the waiting list to get housing, so I don’t think it’s appropriate to have a moratorium on evictions, but we should make sure that eviction prevention and self-sufficiency programs are working as well as they can to prevent evictions. We have had fewer evictions this year than in years past largely because of these programs, but they can be better.  We need to insist that everyone be treated with respect, and that housing is of the highest quality possible.  The Housing Authority seems to have been in a chronic state of crisis for much of the past 15 years, at least, and I am committed to working with CRHA and residents to find lasting solutions.

2) How well do you think the current CRHA administration (staff and Board) are handling the challenges facing the Housing Authority?  Do you believe we need a change in leadership (or at least a change in course) at CRHA or do you believe things are heading in the right direction under the current leadership?

I absolutely think a change in course is appropriate and needed. The walls of anger and distrust that have built up on all sides make it difficult for any solution to work.  I hope that Mr Jones’s work and City Council support for those efforts will help us find a solution that makes residents feel (and be) heard and respected and have quality housing, staff feel competent and empowered to do their jobs, management to respond appropriately to problems and policies, and the board to implement fair and reasonable consistent policies.

3) More and more cities are allowing residents of public housing to choose who will represent them on their Housing Authority Boards by way of direct elections for resident commissioners.  If such a proposal were to come before Charlottesville City Council, would you be inclined to support it?  Why or why not?

I would support this if we could develop an election process that would involve and inform all Public Housing and Subsidized Housing residents.

4) Do you support the Residents’ Bill of Rights for Redevelopment and will you insist that CRHA honor each and every commitment in the Bill of Rights if and when it proceeds with redevelopment of public housing?

Yes.

5) Previous Councils have consistently supported PHAR’s organizing campaigns, policy suggestions, and funding. If you are elected, will you support PHAR’s mission and continue funding for PHAR and champion our cause with your colleagues?

I helped with some of the early organizing work for PHAR, and fought to increase resident membership on the Housing Authority from one to three.  I fully support PHAR’s mission and will continue to champion the cause of public housing residents and other low-income citizens of our community.

6) As a City Councilor, will you support the City’s Living Wage Policy (for both City employees and contracted employees) and urge major employers in the area, especially UVa and its contractors, to adopt similar policies, so that no one who works full-time in our community has to live in poverty?

Yes, absolutely, as I have done for many years. I introduced the living wage increase and index this year, along with language urging all employers in the region to do the same.  I have actively supported efforts at UVA push for a living wage there.

7) Charlottesville has proclaimed itself a “City of Second Chances”. As a councilor what will you do to increase opportunities for successful re-entry of ex-offenders into our community and re-energize the city towards addressing the needs of ex-offenders in Charlottesville?

I voted to make Charlottesville “A City of Second Chances”, and fully believe that is what every community should be.  As chair of the regional Jail Board, I see the cost to the community when folks are not able to find employment or housing after release.  As a human being, I see the emotional and economic cost to former prisoners and their families.

8) What are your thoughts or concerns about the Human Rights Commission? What would you like to see the commission work towards in terms of addressing institutional racism, and gender and racial discrimination on city boards and commissions?

I think the Human Rights Commission is something we have needed for a long time, and I’m proud to have been part of making it happen. It will help us tackle illegal discrimination, but also address and reduce disparities – things which may not be against the law, or even intentional, but have outcomes of inequity.  Our boards and commissions are a good example.  We continually bemoan the fact that very few minority or low-income residents apply for these positions, but we need to go further and figure out how the structure of some of our boards and the way we look for applicants may have an impact on the applicants who come forward.  I don’t believe the current Council is guilty of overt discrimination, but societal racial and economic barriers certainly have an impact on the process, and we need to address that.

9) What is the usefulness of the Strategic Investment Area? Do you think the Residents Bill of Rights for Redevelopment applies to the Strategic Investment Area? How do you feel about “de-concentration” of poverty strategies in Charlottesville, will this strategy dilute and disperse public housing communities in the area?

It’s very helpful to look at regions of the city in a strategic way, rather than one project at a time.  The Bill of Rights is applicable when part of that strategy involves the redevelopment of public housing.

I know that the idea of “de-concentrating poverty” brings worries that neighborhoods will be broken up, and we need to pay attention to the relationships and benefits of neighborhoods that exist now, particularly high-poverty neighborhoods.  But we can’t ignore the fact that when people – especially kids – live in neighborhoods where more than a quarter of the people live in poverty, it’s harder for them to be successful in school or in work, and they tend to be even less prosperous than their parents.  Having mixed neighborhoods is good for everyone, but we need to make sure that the positives of existing neighborhoods are preserved.

10) What will you do to increase employment opportunities for residents of public housing in Charlottesville? How do you plan to bolster the Section 3 program and increase employment for residents (as opposed to just providing training)? Do you have a broader jobs and anti-poverty approach that doesn’t rely solely on job training and small business support?

I believe we need a wide range of programs and initiatives to eliminate generational poverty in Charlottesville.  Job training and small business support are important.  So are building opportunities and building the capacity of residents to seize those opportunities.  So is increasing affordable housing.  So is instituting the Human Rights Commission.  So is fighting for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and Medicaid Expansion.  So is dialogue and community education.  So is helping folks with criminal records re-enter society in a positive way.  So is paying attention to the role that trauma plays in many families and helping members recover.  We need to build one another up in these various efforts – not tear one another down.  They are all needed. I strongly support City of Promise as one model that tries to create a cradle-through-career network of supports to help children do well and achieve their promise.  I’ve worked hard to bring together lots of stakeholders, including parents and children, to make this happen, and am committed to seeing it grow to include all children in Charlottesville. Section 3 is an exciting initiative that I believe not only prepares residents for work but prepares employers to understand the benefits of hiring them, and I’ll continue to support it.
###

Adam Lees 6/1 5:00 pm

1) As a City Councilor, what will you do to improve the responsiveness of the Housing Authority to residents, in terms of eviction prevention, maintenance, customer service, and the many other serious issues that residents have brought to CRHA’s attention?

I support two distinct actions. First, I would reorganize the CRHA Board so that residents have equal representation as citizen-at-large members with the appointed City Councilor serving as a tie-breaking vote if necessary. Second, I would investigate implementing a system similar to SpeakUpUVA to address these issues. SpeakUpUVA allows any student to indicate issues and suggest solutions or new programs to Student Council. These posts mandate response and allow both student councilors and University staff to respond as appropriate to an issue (analogously, these would be CRHA commissioners and CRHA staff for the CRHA). This would not only provide a tangible means of addressing residents’ concerns, but also clear documentation of such concerns and whether or not they were addressed and the rationale, if any.

2) How well do you think the current CRHA administration (staff and Board) are handling the challenges facing the Housing Authority?  Do you believe we need a change in leadership (or at least a change in course) at CRHA or do you believe things are heading in the right direction under the current leadership?

As the HUD report demonstrates, the CRHA is both failing to handle the challenges well and to handle management well. A rapid turnover in leadership, though, has contributed to this; thus, I would suggest a change of course and reform of the board, including replacements of current non-resident commissioners, and its practices rather than another executive leadership shuffle.

3) More and more cities are allowing residents of public housing to choose who will represent them on their Housing Authority Boards by way of direct elections for resident commissioners.  If such a proposal were to come before Charlottesville City Council, would you be inclined to support it?  Why or why not?

I would certainly like more information on this subject, namely how the process works in other cities and how their CRHA analogs function as well as any costs associated with elections. At face value, though, I see no reason to oppose it and would endorse it if it could build mutual trust between the City and public housing residents.

4) Do you support the Residents’ Bill of Rights for Redevelopment and will you insist that CRHA honor each and every commitment in the Bill of Rights if and when it proceeds with redevelopment of public housing?

Yes. Considering that both the CRHA Board of Commissioners and City Council approved the Bill of Rights in 2008, I believe it has the force of a contract. Moreover, I would support Council and PHAR meeting regularly to discuss projects as they relate to the Bill to ensure both mutual understanding and open communication.

5) Previous Councils have consistently supported PHAR’s organizing campaigns, policy suggestions, and funding. If you are elected, will you support PHAR’s mission and continue funding for PHAR and champion our cause with your colleagues?

Yes. Though I cannot promise unconditional support for every single action, I can and do promise to reach out, listen closely, and work hard to assure positive actions are taken and policies implemented to assure dignity and opportunity for public housing residents.

6) As a City Councilor, will you support the City’s Living Wage Policy (for both City employees and contracted employees) and urge major employers in the area, especially UVa and its contractors, to adopt similar policies, so that no one who works full-time in our community has to live in poverty?

The City has had a living wage since (at least) 2001 and increased it last July. I see no reason it should change. By the same token, no formula exists for determining the living wage and I could find no study to help determine the impact of that policy, particularly on the alleviation of poverty. Without such information, any effort to urge expansion of a living wage is unlikely to succeed. When on Student Council, where unlike any of the other candidates I saw the issue first-hand, I did not support a resolution to support Living Wage at UVA because they could not provide critical information like those I noted, did not seem to appreciate the immense financial challenges facing the University (which have resulted in at-times uncomfortable internal restructurings and the accreditation-threatening Unpleasantness of last summer), and did not take into account the numerous University-funded programs to provide not only decent wages, but also career opportunities, job training, and benefits such as healthcare to workers and their families in our community. I am not opposed in principle to a living wage, but I will not endorse or oppose a policy without having more information.

7) Charlottesville has proclaimed itself a ‘City of Second Chances”. As a councilor what will you do to increase opportunities for successful re-entry of ex-offenders into our community and re-energize the city towards addressing the needs of ex-offenders in Charlottesville?

I would work with the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office to avoid pursuing felony charges when a lesser charge would be possible and assisting ex-offenders in recovering their full civil rights and, when possible, expunging their records. I would also emphasize programs to prepare current prisoners for accessing the job market and re-entry into society as well as supporting the work of the Re-Entry Action Team in identifying and addressing the needs of ex-offenders.

8) What are your thoughts or concerns about the Human Rights Commission? What would you like to see the commission work towards in terms of addressing institutional racism, and gender and racial discrimination on city boards and commissions?

My main concern with the Commission is that it will not be effectual or, worse, it could attempt to impose a de facto discriminatory (and illegal) quota system on appointments to city boards and commissions. I would like to see the Commission continue the Dialogue on Race’s work and make recommendations to Council to address institutional racism and in identifying suitable candidates from underrepresented demographics to serve on the city’s boards and commissions.

9) What is the usefulness of the Strategic Investment Area? Do you think the Residents Bill of Rights for Redevelopment applies to the Strategic Investment Area? How do you feel about “de-concentration” of poverty strategies in Charlottesville, will this strategy dilute and disperse public housing communities in the area?

The usefulness, beyond guiding economic investment and development, comes from a wholistic view of planning and development that takes into account multiple features of the area from transit infrastructure to community spaces. As the City makes explicit on its website about the SIA, the Bill of Rights applies to the SIA as much as the rest of the city. No exceptions. To the last question, as I’ve stated before, the only de-concentration of poverty I want to see comes from lifting citizens of Charlottesville out of poverty into decent jobs, not from dispersing them to fix the numbers. Having a community and social support system is as vital to human beings as food, clothing, and shelter. If development in the SIA brought public housing communities closer to non-public housing communities, then that would be an opportunity to build bridges between different groups and chip away at the distance that fuels the kinds of discrimination that PHAR and the City oppose rather than a threat to the identity of public housing communities.

10) What will you do to increase employment opportunities for residents of public housing in Charlottesville? How do you plan to bolster the Section 3 program and increase employment for residents (as opposed to just providing training)? Do you have a broader jobs and anti-poverty approach that doesn’t rely solely on job training and small business support?

I would encourage the CRHA specifically and the City more broadly, when positions become available, to reach out to and employ public housing residents first. In terms of Section 3 specifically, I would work to improve the customer service aspect so that applicants to the program hear back swiftly or know when they can expect to hear back. I would like to strengthen this program by working with UVA, initially and other employers later, to target public housing residents for placement in programs already offered that include employment. My broader jobs/pro-opportunity approach centers on coordinated education, auxiliary service provision (such as childcare and improved public transit), and on-the-job experience – focusing initially on the healthcare industry – to take participants from unemployed or underemployed to having an education with no debt and a job with which they can sustain a family. Though this program is focused particularly on young adults who are unemployed at three-times the city-wide rate, anyone can participate. The City has lent its support to such a First Rung Collaborative devised by IMPACT, an interfaith civic group, and I intend to work my utmost to make it succeed and grow.
###

Wes Bellamy 6/3 5:30 pm

1) As a City Councilor, what will you do to improve the responsiveness of the Housing Authority to residents, in terms of eviction prevention, maintenance, customer service, and the many other serious issues that residents have brought to CRHA’s attention?

I would actually like to make a move for Council to take over the CRHA Board and revamp a few things. I feel that the issues that the residents have are indeed serious and more attention needs to be placed on these issues. However, I am also more than aware that it takes both sides to cooperate in order everyone in Low Income Housing to be successful. This leadership needs to come from us. We show this leadership by re-appointments, working with HUD, and working with the residents.

2) How well do you think the current CRHA administration (staff and Board) are handling the challenges facing the Housing Authority?  Do you believe we need a change in leadership (or at least a change in course) at CRHA or do you believe things are heading in the right direction under the current leadership?

I feel that leadership needs to come from Council. I feel that the CRHA Board could use a little improvement, however, as aforementioned in my previous response, both sides need to be willing to work together in order for the citizens to win.

3) More and more cities are allowing residents of public housing to choose who will represent them on their Housing Authority Boards by way of direct elections for resident commissioners.  If such a proposal were to come before Charlottesville City Council, would you be inclined to support it?  Why or why not?

No one can speak better for the people than the people themselves. I would completely support a direct election for resident commissioners. Just as the people elect City Council members, it is fair for the residents to represent their representation on the CRHA Board.

4) Do you support the Residents’ Bill of Rights for Redevelopment and will you insist that CRHA honor each and every commitment in the Bill of Rights if and when it proceeds with redevelopment of public housing?

Very simple, yes, as long as it is fair to both sides. We must be willing to work together.

5) Previous Councils have consistently supported PHAR’s organizing campaigns, policy suggestions, and funding. If you are elected, will you support PHAR’s mission and continue funding for PHAR and champion our cause with your colleagues?

Once again, very simple, Yes.

6) As a City Councilor, will you support the City’s Living Wage Policy (for both City employees and contracted employees) and urge major employers in the area, especially UVA and its contractors, to adopt similar policies, so that no one who works full-time in our community has to live in poverty?

Yes, the city will not be able to reach its full potential until everyone has the same opportunities afforded to them.

7) Charlottesville has proclaimed itself a ‘City of Second Chances”. As a councilor what will you do to increase opportunities for successful re-entry of ex-offenders into our community and re-energize the city towards addressing the needs of ex-offenders in Charlottesville?

One of the things that I am very interested in looking into is the removing of the “Do You Have A Felony?” question from all applications within the city. It detracts many people from applying to jobs. Obviously, I would not like to see situations where people who may be “Sex Offenders” working with children, however, for some people who may have a felony from 15+ years prior to today for infractions in which they have already paid their debt to society, still punishing them by not hiring them due to their past is not fair in any shape, form, or fashion.

8) What are your thoughts or concerns about the Human Rights Commission? What would you like to see the commission work towards in terms of addressing institutional racism, and gender and racial discrimination on city boards and commissions?

I am firm believer in having a mechanism in place to ensure that people are being treated fairly. However, we need to make sure that it is going to be done right. We have many issues in Charlottesville that need to be addressed, thus, we need to make sure that we are addressing all issues in the proper manner.

9) What is the usefulness of the Strategic Investment Area? Do you think the Residents Bill of Rights for Redevelopment applies to the Strategic Investment Area? How do you feel about “de-concentration” of poverty strategies in Charlottesville, will this strategy dilute and disperse public housing communities in the area?

I believe that the SIA can be useful if we as a community take advantage of the opportunities that it may present. We must all work together to ensure that we are all being afforded the same opportunities and furthermore that we are putting forth our best effort to be successful. I have never been, nor will I ever be a fan of de-concentration of our communities in the city. As an individual who grew up in public housing, I am well aware of how important it is to preserve “the neighborhood.” By the same token, I don’t think that SIA will dilute the public housing community. When I was 9, the housing development in which I grew up in was tore down, and we were moved to a “mixed income” affordable housing unit neighborhood. It actually turned out to be a good thing in retrospect, for it allowed me to see people who I never would have come in contact with in my neighborhood before. I recently took a trip to Greenville, SC and saw their Affordable housing models and I was blown away. I think this is what we need here in Charlottesville; however, we must remain fair to all.

10) What will you do to increase employment opportunities for residents of public housing in Charlottesville? How do you plan to bolster the Section 3 program and increase employment for residents (as opposed to just providing training)? Do you have a broader jobs and anti-poverty approach that doesn’t rely solely on job training and small business support?

I recently just finished working with Kathy Galvin and several PHAR Members to bring free GED Class training to everyone in low income housing sites. I think this is the first step, getting people prepared. After which, we must attract jobs, but I would actually like to work with the employers that we have here in the area to get an immediate jump on this situation. Please see my attached power point presentation on Economic Development to see my plan for job creation.
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Bob Fenwick 6/4 3:13 pm

1)      As a City Councilor, what will you do to improve the responsiveness of the Housing Authority to residents, in terms of eviction prevention, maintenance, customer service, and the many other serious issues that residents have brought to CRHA’s attention?

I would attend Housing Authority/Phar meetings until I understood where the conflict was coming from and then move to stop it.

2)      How well do you think the current CRHA administration (staff and Board) are handling the challenges facing the Housing Authority?  Do you believe we need a change in leadership (or at least a change in course) at CRHA or do you believe things are heading in the right direction under the current leadership?

Things are NOT heading in the right direction.  We are all neighbors and acquaintances and can come to a mutually agreeable solution to any challenges facing us.  Sometimes attention to the problem can do this, sometimes it takes a change in the negotiators.

3)      More and more cities are allowing residents of public housing to choose who will represent them on their Housing Authority Boards by way of direct elections for resident commissioners.  If such a proposal were to come before Charlottesville City Council, would you be inclined to support it?  Why or why not?

4) Do you support the Residents’ Bill of Rights for Redevelopment and will you insist that CRHA honor each and every commitment in the Bill of Rights if and when it proceeds with redevelopment of public housing?

Yes, I support the BofR and would be a strong advocate for treating citizens with respect and decency.

5) Previous Councils have consistently supported PHAR’s organizing campaigns, policy suggestions, and funding. If you are elected, will you support PHAR’s mission and continue funding for PHAR and champion our cause with your colleagues?

Absolutely!

6) As a City Councilor, will you support the City’s Living Wage Policy (for both City employees and contracted employees) and urge major employers in the area, especially UVa and its contractors, to adopt similar policies, so that no one who works full-time in our community has to live in poverty?

Absolutely!

7) Charlottesville has proclaimed itself a ‘City of Second Chances”. As a councilor what will you do to increase opportunities for successful re-entry of ex-offenders into our community and re-energize the city towards addressing the needs of ex-offenders in Charlottesville?

I will continue my work with Believers and Achievers to support and encourage ex-offenders to return as productive members of our community.  For me, it’s not just the talk that’s important, it’s the action that follows.

8) What are your thoughts or concerns about the Human Rights Commission? What would you like to see the commission work towards in terms of addressing institutional racism, and gender and racial discrimination on city boards and commissions?

I strongly support the HRC and will work hard to ensure it’s success.

9) What is the usefulness of the Strategic Investment Area? Do you think the Residents Bill of Rights for Redevelopment applies to the Strategic Investment Area? How do you feel about gde-concentrationh of poverty strategies in Charlottesville, will this strategy dilute and disperse public housing communities in the area?

The residents’ BofR applies to anything they do.  The ‘strategies’ for poverty are secondary to the efforts of the people involved.  When the system fails it’s because of the participants, not the strategy.  Fair, just and equal treatment is not a strategy.  It is a right.

10) What will you do to increase employment opportunities for residents of public housing in Charlottesville? How do you plan to bolster the Section 3 program and increase employment for residents (as opposed to just providing training)? Do you have a broader jobs and anti-poverty approach that doesnft rely solely on job training and small business support?

I would try and convince community leaders that more jobs come from more infrastructure maintenance.  The huge jobs in town are mostly done by out of town contractors and very little of the money stays in our community.  Infrastructure maintenance would keep almost all of the money in our community and would provide entry level and skill jobs to a greater degree than new projects.  I can train a man or woman how to do anything in construction and I can take a new worker with no experience right off the street and within a year make him or her a skilled worker with good pay.
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Posted in Uncategorized.

Message from the May Day Marchers

The following message was delivered to the CRHA office at the end of our May Day March and Rally for Justice and Dignity in Public Housing on May 1st, 2013

487
Dear CRHA Board of Commissioners, Constance Dunn, Mayor Huja, and Charlottesville City Council,

Enough is Enough!

We can no longer tolerate the state of public housing in Charlottesville the way it exists.

We are tired of the disrespect shown to residents by the CRHA staff.
We are tired of suffering through the indignities of interaction with the housing authority.
We are tired of being told that we are less than human beings because we live in public housing.
We are tired of going to court, and watching our neighbors being evicted.
We are tired of asking for eviction prevention strategies for months with no result.
We are tired of attending public meetings where our voices are ignored.
We are tired of attending meetings to defend our neighborhoods from gentrification and privatization  over and over again.
We are tired of the barrage of city plans for dispersing our communities and privatizing our homes.
We are tired of locked community centers.
We are tired of the lack of job opportunities for low-income people.
We are tired of not accessing the Earned Income Disallowance.
We are tired of rent miscalculations and overcharging.
We are tired of broken stoves, ripped carpets, broken windows, broken and moldy cabinets, broken elevators, cracked tiles, and mold in our homes.
We are tired of poor air circulation.
We are tired of asking for a mold assessment and abatement plan and not receiving it.
We are tired of being told that there is no money to renovate our homes.
We are tired of being targeted by property managers, the executive director, and the police.
We are tired of incompetent, rude, and untrained CRHA staff.
We are tired of being treated like criminals in our own homes.
We are tired of the grievance process being ignored.
We are tired of being adversaries rather than partners with the housing authority.
We are tired of not being at the table.

We are not so tired that we will lie down and continue as things are.
We demand meaningful, dignified, creative and immediate change in public housing. We cannot tolerate the situation as it is, and we will no longer relegate ourselves to begging for scraps and fighting to be at the table to discuss policy changes that are ignored.
We want the whole table, not just a seat, and we want justice now.
We march for own dignity, and we demand justice from decision makers.

Our core demands:
– Justice, fairness, and respect from CRHA staff
– Change in executive leadership of the CRHA
– Eviction Prevention Policy based on avoiding eviction at all cost, and a moratorium on evictions until such a policy is crafted.
– Immediate survey of all maintenance needs, and a full accounting made to residents for how the needs will be met
– Immediate assessment of air quality of all public housing units and a full accounting made to residents on how this issue is to be addressed
– Renovation and Rehab of our homes without dismantling our communities
– Strict adherence to the Residents Bill of Rights for Redevelopment
– A working, fair, and honest grievance procedure
– Joint training of CRHA staff and residents on all CRHA and HUD policies
– Assessment of any and all rent overcharges in public housing and Section 8 and repayment made to residents
– An end to vague 21/30 notices regarding housekeeping inspections.
– Job opportunities for residents.
– Community Center policy that keeps our centers open for use by residents.
– An end to property managers and the executive director applying policies inconsistently, playing favorites with residents, and attempts to divide and conquer.
– A stop to all attempts to bypass, avoid, dismantle, or attack resident organizing.
– A stop to all attempts to intimidate residents into staying silent.

Sincerely, the residents of public housing and community supporters of the
May Day March and Rally for Justice and Dignity.

Posted in Uncategorized.

May 1st March and Rally for Justice in Public Housing

Please sign and share the petition!
Stop the ACOP learn more here
May Day Flyer

And Join us for a MAY DAY RALLY and MARCH for JUSTICE and DIGNITY in
Public Housing

May Day Flyer JPEG

 

MAY DAY-MAY 1st
RALLY and MARCH for JUSTICE and DIGNITY in Public Housing

STOP the ACOP Changes!

3:00 pm – Federal Courthouse
GATHER
( corner of McIntire and Water St.)

3:30 pm – Downtown
MARCH
(from Courthouse to City Hall)

4:00 pm – City Hall
RALLY
for Justice and Dignity
( free speech wall across from City Hall)

To Find a Ride, Help Organize, or for more Info
contact PHAR at: (434) 984-3255

brandon@pharcville.org

Our Demands:

  • Justice, Respect, and Dignity
  • NO Late Fee Increase
  • NO Decrease in Rent Due Date
  • NO Evictions for Late Rent
  • NO Decrease in Income Reporting Period
  • NO Pet Fee Increase
  • NO Increase in Minimum Rent
  • NO Privatization of Public Housing
  • Trained and Competent Staff
  • Board Oversight of Staff
  • Maintenance and Rehab NOW !!!
  • Eviction Prevention NOT Punishment
  • Fair and Honest Grievance Procedures
  • Immediate Air Quality Assessment

May Day Flyer

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