Community Budget Input Forum Wednesday, March 21 7:00 pm “City Space” (next to City in Hall in Market St. parking garage)

              

Come speak up for PHAR’s goals for the City of Charlottesville and the funding required to make it happen!  Join PHAR members and supporters as we chime in on budgeting for the City of Charlottesville! Feel free to speak, or just show up and show support.

 DON’T FORGET to wear your PHAR T-Shirt!

Here’s what we want:

1. Support and improve public housing communities –

  • Expand support for the Nursing Clinics at Westhaven and Crescent Halls to better serve  residents and provide a living wage with benefits to employees.
  • Continue supporting PHAR and our efforts to organize residents, including the PHAR Internship Program ($50,000 is needed).
  • Increase funding for Community Policing in public housing neighborhoods

2. Increase programs for low-income youth –

  • Provide High quality after-school programs in the South First Street and 6th Street community centers.
  • Expand support for Helping Young People Evolve (HYPE) Boxing Club.
  • Provide computers at South First Street and 6th Street community centers.

3. Expand re-entry opportunities for ex-offenders –

  • Add at least 10-15 positions for the “Home to Work” program to provide work experience for ex-felons.

We want these things to happen but remember- it all starts with the money! Tell your own views on these matters, share your personal experience and why these things need funding, or check out these great reasons for supporting PHAR’s agenda for the City:

  • We are not asking for a lot of funds compared to the overall budget.
  • It is time for Council to pay more attention to the needs of public housing residents.
  • Support and Improve public housing communities.
  • PHAR is necessary to express the concerns and needs of public housing residents.
  • Resident input is required by the government, don’t limit our ability to speak or organize.
  • The Internship program has helped dozens of residents to organize around community issues and improves our housing communities, as well as providing residents with marketable skills and education about job-hunting and stable employment.
  • PHAR’s grant request requires “level funding,” meaning it is not an increase from past years.

Consider also:

  • Nursing Clinics at Westhaven and Crescent Halls are vital to a healthy community.
  • Employees should be compensated for their hard work and dedication.
  • We don’t want a police state in our neighborhoods but we do need safety- community policing is effective in creating safe neighborhoods and builds community.
  • Increase programs for low-income youth-Charlottesville does not offer enough affordable activities for young people.
  • South 1st Street and 6th Street Community Centers after school programming will help parents and kids alike.
  • Computer skills and access should be available to all people, this helps with educational achievement and future employment opportunities.
  • HYPE has proven to be a popular activity for young people; it builds discipline and self worth.
  • Charlottesville is a “City of Second Chances” lets make that a reality for ex-offenders
  • Ex-Offenders have a very difficult time finding work which can lead to loss of dignity, re-offense, broken families, and impoverished neighborhoods.
  • The “Home to Work” program has been a success in the pilot stage, Council should commit to expanding it!
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Redevelopment – Slow But Steady So Stay Informed

While most of the costs for redevelopment of Charlottesville's public housing will be a long time in coming there has been some activity lately, especially around Crescent Hall.  Some of that is thanks to the advocacy of PHAR members who brought out the critical safety issues related to ongoing problems with the elevators. 

Here are two local articles that talk about what's being planned for Crescent Halland the Levy Properties.  Keep up with the website, follow PHAR on Facebook or come to meetings.  However you get your information stay on your toes so you know what's going on and can advocate on behalf of you, your families and your neighborhoods. 

2012 will be a big year with these plans and a presidential election.  Don't let it pass you by!

From C'ville:  Redevelopment Hinges on Radical Approach

 From Charlottesville Tomorrow:  Crescent Hall Renovations Kick Off Redevelopment

Here's an excerpt from the Charlottesville Tomorrow article showing why PHAR's win of the Residents' Bill of Rights for Redevelopment was so important:  Tolbert said an agreement between the CRHA and public housing residents requires the city to house any displaced residents while renovations are undertaken.

“One of the requirements for relocation is that we have a one-on-one with every tenant that lives there and talk about their needs,” Tolbert said. “There’s an opportunity as we do Crescent Hall to use the Levy site for relocation of the people living in Crescent Hall as that renovation goes forward.”

Private companies, as well as nonprofit groups, will be eligible to submit proposals for how to develop both Crescent and Levy. The winning bidder will have to uphold the requirement that the city maintain all 376 units as public housing.

“In my opinion, what’s not up for discussion and debate are those guarantees on resident participation, one-for-one replacement and right of return,” Norris said. 

 

 

 

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PHAR Residents Advocate for Safer Neighborhoods

At the recent City Council Neighborhood meeting at Crescent Hall, residents of Crescent Hall and Fifeville advocated for more police officers patrolling their neighborhood during the day and night, especially in Tonsler Park.  

From the C'ville Article:

"Crescent Hall resident Mary Carey, who wasn’t satisfied with Finkel’s responses, told Council members that, years ago, community policing felt inclusive and played a very important role in the neighborhood. Today, however, it has taken on new meaning.

“Community policing is like it says: community policing,” said Carey. “It’s not spot-checking police officers in neighborhoods. It’s bringing the neighborhood and the police together to police the neighborhood.”

For Crescent Hall resident Overy Johnson, creating a safe neighborhood goes beyond strict police work. In fact, Johnson, who grew up in New York City, says the community could police itself if its infrastructure, like parks, were regularly improved.

“It’s not about intimidating these young kids out there,” he tells C-VILLE. “Give the kids something they need.”"

To read the entire article click here

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Crescent Hall Residents Pack the House for a Town Hall Discussion With City Officials

Crescent Hall residents and their neighbors packed the house for a Town Hall discussion with Mayor Dave Norris (pictured), other members of City Council and City Manager Maurice Jones. Residents raised many important issues, including their months-long wait for fully functional elevators, safety and the need for neighborhood policing and faster responses to calls, high fees (excess utility and maintenance charges), the need for more employment opportunities and improvements to customer service for public housing residents.

 

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PHAR Advocacy Highlighted in Public Housing Tenant Newsletter

From the Summer 2011 Tenant Talk Newsletter of the National Low Income Housing Coalition:

Years of constant prodding by public housing leaders in Charlottesville, Virginia recently paid off when both the City Council and the Housing Authority approved a Section 3 Plan.  The purpose of Section 3 is to ensure that jobs and other economic opportunities created when HUD assists housing and community development projects go to low income people “to the greatest extent feasible.”

Charlottesville’s plan lays out the basic Section 3 requirements that the city, CRHA, and their contractors and subcontractors must follow when HUD dollars are spent.

To help achieve their goals, the city and CRHA will hire a Section 3 Coordinator to connect low income residents with contractors and subcontractors working on HUD-funded projects. The Section 3 Coordinator will help contractors and subcontractors understand their Section 3 obligations. The coordinator will also help them achieve their goals of hiring or training low income residents or subcontracting with Section 3 businesses. An advisory group including PHAR and key city officials will guide the Section 3 Coordinator.

Soon after Tom Perriello was sworn in as the U.S. Congressman representing the Charlottesville area in 2009, Ms. Johnson and Ms. Edwards convinced him of the value of Section 3. In June 2010, Congressman Perriello hosted a day-long Section 3 workshop with HUD Assistant Secretary John Trasviña. This added to a growing awareness that more needed to be done. When she was on the CRHA Board, Ms. Edwards introduced the idea of a Section 3 Plan. Charlottesville's Mayor, Dave Norris, is also on the CRHA Board and continued promoting the plan after Ms. Edward’s term ended. With the constant promotion of the plan, the Section 3 Plan was approved by both the city and CRHA in June 2011.

To read the full article click here.

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Bank On Greater Charlottesville

Three years ago, a group of people came together to start the Coalition for Economic Opportunity (CEO). PHAR was there from the start.

The goal of CEO is to help individuals and families become more independent and financially stable. CEO is now helping to start a program called Bank On Greater Charlottesville. The purpose of the Bank On Greater Charlottesville is to help people who don't have bank accounts and help people avoid expensive loans like payday loans and car title loans.

Through the Bank On program, it will be easier for people who don't have bank accounts to open and keep bank accounts. Studies show that, compared to having a bank account, it is much more expensive to use check cashers and money orders stores. Having a bank account and using it in the right ways can actually save you money.

The Bank On program will also help qualified people get affordable loans. This will help people who might be tempted to go to an expensive payday lender or car title lender and might get caught in the cycle of debt. Staying away from payday lenders and car title lenders can actually save you money. People need better options, and that is what Bank on will provide.

Another part of Bank On Greater Charlottesville is financial education. The program will offer classes throughout the community. These classes will give people important information about saving money and being financially stable. By attending classes, people can also receive financial rewards.

The Bank On program is a partnership with local banks and credit unions and local government. The goal is to help people become more independent and financially stable. The program will be launched in 2012. PHAR will continue to be involved as a coalition member to bring this new program to our community. Stay tuned for more information. 

To learn more about CEO and the Bank On program click here.

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PHAR Board Members and “Better Choices”

PHAR Board members Janyce Lewis (2nd from left) and Sylvia Taylor (2nd from right) attended the Better Choices for Virginia press conference with Legal Aid organizer Emily Dreyfus.  They were happy to run into PHAR’s first organizer, Ben Thacker-Gwaltney (now with Virginia Organizing).  The Better Choices for Virginia Coalition advocates for budget reforms, especially improvements  to Virginia’s tax system.  The current “cuts-only” approach to Virginia’s budget needs to be replaced with a balanced approach that looks at how we increase money coming into the system, instead of only cutting services and programs for Virginians. 

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Big Gaps in Wealth Between White, Black, & Hispanic Households

The median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households.  It's 18 times higher than Hispanic households, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly available government data from 2009.

This is the largest gap since the government began publishing this information 25 years ago.  It's more than double the differences in wealth from 1990 through 2010.  Why is this? 

According to the Pew Research Center, the bursting of the housing market bubble in 2006 and the recession that followed from late 2007 to mid-2009 took  much more of the wealth of minorities than whites. From 2005 to 2009, inflation-adjusted median wealth fell by 66% among Hispanic households and 53% among black households, compared with just 16% among white households.

Wealth is defined as assets minus debts.  As a result of the recession, the typical black household had the lowest wealth – just $5,677  in 2009.   The typical Hispanic household had $6,325 in wealth.  The typical white household had $113,149.

To read the full article click here. 

PEW RESEARCH CENTER

 

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PHAR Seeks Candidates’ Opinions

PHAR asked prospective Charlottesville City Councilors’ to respond to a questionnaire on rights and opportunities for Charlottesville's public housing residents. Six of the seven candidates vying for the Democratic nomination in the August 20 primary election answered the questionnaire (James Halfaday declined to answer).

PHAR solicited candidate input about several topics, including redevelopment of the city’s public housing, resident involvement, employment, and improving educational outcomes. PHAR will conduct non-partisan voter education with the results of the questionnaire.

Independent candidates for Council will be asked to answer the same questions before the general election in November. Read our Media Release  summarizing the questionnaire and responses.  Click here for all the questions and each candidate's response. 

Keep checking out the PHAR website for more information about the candidates and the City Council election so you can be an informed voter!  And follow us on Facebook at PHAR Charlottesville. 

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C-Ville Story on the Status of Redevelopment

Westhaven community meeting
 
Several PHAR members were quoted in an August 23rd edition of C-Ville

"Sherri Clarke, CRHA Board member, Riverside resident and vocal advocate for the well-being of public housing residents, is fearful that giving power and authority to a partner will negatively affect the residents. “It appears to be a good idea, the structure of these buildings has been the same for so many years, but I also see a downside,” she says. “The downside that I see is that it appears to be costly…and you are going to have to involve other people to maintain this project and the fear for me as a resident is thinking that the one that puts the most in wants to run the show.”

"Joy Johnson says neighbors are fearful that a denser scenario would “stack them on top of the other.” Johnson, who serves on the CRHA Board, has some reservations of her own. “I’m not for density, but I could be for density if it is going to provide more housing for low-income folks,” she says. “I’m not for density when you are building more Starbucks, when you are building more luxury apartments or coffee shops. I do believe a grocery store is necessary in rebuilding.”

The article talks about the process of redevelopment so far and how CRHA is trying to find funding for this project.

To read the whole article click here

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