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. 



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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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PHAR Board Chair Deirdre Gilmore Speaks Out About Treatment of Public Housing Residents

Here is the text from the letter to the Editor of the Daily Progress from our Board Chair Deirdre Gilmore. Respond to her comments on line at the paper or on PHAR's page on Facebook. 

"I watched the Housing Authority Board meeting on Charlottesville’s Web site. Belmont residents were speaking out to say they don’t want low-income housing to be built in their neighborhood. It’s a small piece of land on Levy Avenue that’s being talked about, but these residents are putting up a big fuss. The way they spoke at the meeting was very hurtful to me and other members of the Public Housing Association of Residents. Residents of public housing are human beings, but that’s not how they spoke about us. Our children deserve respect and support, not to be lumped together as underachievers. The majority of us are law-abiding citizens, just like the majority of the rest of the people in Charlottesville. We work hard, many of us working very long hours at more than one job. We pay rent, but we depend on public housing to have affordable rents. That doesn’t mean we aren’t deserving of respect. The Belmont residents don’t want us in their backyards, and they don’t want us in their front yards. They seem to want us gone. But we are the people who work in their restaurants, their children’s day care, their parents’ nursing homes. Get to know us. We probably have more in common than you think."

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PHAR Interns Recognized at Graduation

On Friday, May 21st seven PHAR members, residents of public housing, graduated from the 2010 PHAR Internship program. L.D. Perry mentored this group of up and coming new community leaders through educational programs, community projects, and participation in public meetings. A number of groups and individuals provided opportunities for experiential learning, support and mentorship, for example the Vinegar Hill Toastmasters. Check out WVIR/NBC Channel 29's coverage of the Internship program including interviews with two graduates.

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How to Contact Us

Public Housing Association of Residents
1000 Preston Avenue, Suite C
Charlottesville, VA 22903
ph. (434) 984-3255
PHAR’s Board:
Deirdre Gilmore, Chair
Joy Johnson, Vice Chair
Steve Abercrombie, Treasurer
Sherri Clark
Shymora Cooper
Tina Washington
Latita Owens
Brenda Parrish
Sylvia Taylor
PHAR’s Advisory Board:
Rev. Lehman Bates, Ebenezer Baptist Church
Emily Dreyfus, JustChildren, Legal Aid
Jane Foster
Edith Good
Claudette Green
Alex Gulotta, Legal Aid
Audrey Oliver
Dr. Wende Marshall
Dave Norris,
Karen Shepard, MACAA
Holly Edwards
Galina Boyarinova
PHAR’s Staff:
Paul Vaughan, Coordinator
L.D. Perry, Internship Coordinator (Consultant)

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PHAR Accomplishments 2009

► PHAR’s members utilized the Residents’ Bill of Rights for Redevelopment to frame input in the redevelopment process. The Residents’ Bill of Rights for Redevelopment was developed by PHAR and the Legal Aid Justice Center, and adopted by the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority (CRHA) and the Charlottesville City Council in late 2008. The principles in the document ensure that resident involvement will guide all meaningful and substantive decision about redevelopment. That process has been the primary focus of PHAR’s work in 2009.

► PHAR leaders participated in the selection of the consultants who are currently leading the Master Planning process. PHAR Board members ranked proposals, interviewed applicant firms, and participated in deliberations leading to the selection of a consultant firm.

► PHAR educated and motivated public housing residents to increase engagement in the Master Plan process for Redevelopment. PHAR conducted extensive outreach before each public meeting. Our work assured that public housing residents are aware of the opportunities for input, the impact the Master Plan will have on their neighborhoods, understand how the process works, and have the information necessary to voice their preferences and concerns directly to the consultants, City Council and the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners. Paul Vaughan, PHAR’s Coordinator, spent 40 hours of dedicated outreach in one week prior to the redevelopment kickoff event to introduce the Master Planning process to the residents. Close to 200 people attended the event including 88 adult residents of public housing. Hundreds of additional hours of PHAR’s outreach supported a resident-centered planning process with participation of over 200 residents overall.

► Several PHAR Board members, Advisory Council members and staff partici-pated in CRHA field trips to visit redeveloped public housing in other cities. Twenty residents have been on the bus in each of the trips, which have included visits to Hagers-town, Maryland; Alexandria, Virginia; and Long Branch, New Jersey. Residents have appreciated the opportunity to see options to consider for the redevelopment process.

► PHAR initiated and coordinated a collaborative project with youth, bringing history and music together. By partnering with a professor at the University of Virginia, the Housing Authority, the Westhaven Community Day Planning Committee, The Bridge and Lighthouse we brought a professional folk musician from Atlanta to Charlottesville. During that week youth who live in public housing worked together to learn about the history of urban renewal in Charlottesville, created songs from the stories they heard, and then performed their songs at Westhaven Community Day on August 1st. Both the morning and evening performances were among the most popular events of the day. Page 2, PHAR Accomplishments 2009

► PHAR encouraged resident engagement in starting to discuss supportive services options. PHAR staff and Board members met with a consultant and heard presentations from students in a UVA class about their ideas for what would help residents. PHAR continues to encourage interested individuals to focus on dialogue and learn about residents’ perceptions of their own needs and available resources. Redevelopment offers the potential for neighborhood revitalization to look beyond housing upgrades, to include opportunities for residents to move out of poverty, expand educational opportunities, improve job skills and more.

► PHAR initiated a major update of our Internship Program and started a new class of interns. We collected and examined historical records, gathered curriculum input from several sources, and developed a re-vamped curriculum for the program. In October, PHAR staff and leaders began recruiting for a new class of Interns, through outreach in all public housing sites and the two largest subsidized housing neighborhoods in Charlottesville. Approximately 10 interns started in late November; they will work with PHAR for up to 10 hours a week over the next six months, learning leadership skills and becoming more involved in the community. By building civic participation, PHAR impacts the interns’ lives positively, as well as providing more resident involvement to the redevelopment process, the Housing Authority Annual Plan and PHAR’s day-to-day work. PHAR has been able to secure the funds to hire a part-time consultant to serve as Coordinator for the intern program and we have gotten off to a good start in implementing the new, more comprehensive curriculum.

► PHAR began to work on crafting a Barment Policy to update the Housing Authority’s current rules, and ensure residents’ families and friends are treated fairly and reasonably.

► PHAR Board members and staff participated in important statewide and national events. This year, one of PHAR’s founding Board members expanded partici-pation in national public housing initiatives. Stakeholders’ voices were well represented through PHAR’s leader in a meeting with HUD Secretary Donovan, communication with HUD staff about public housing vouchers, protections for resident participation, and other national initiatives and concerns. PHAR signed onto a letter calling for a moratori-um on the demolition of public housing. PHAR also participated in a discussion about a HUD grant program through a conference call with HUD, CRHA staff and Board members and other interested service providers. In addition to work at the national level, five PHAR Board members and PHAR’s Coordinator attended the Statewide Legal Aid Conference. They attended many helpful workshops, including topics such as national public housing news, community organizing, restoration of rights for ex-offenders, the school to prison pipeline and developing leadership capacity and involvement.

► PHAR publicized and supported resident involvement in the Annual Plan. PHAR’s 2009 work was focused on major redevelopment events, but we worked closely with residents through doorknocking and surveying to ensure participation and input in the Housing Authority’s Annual Plan. In addition, we coordinated with Legal Aid. PHAR will soon convey resident input about capital improvement needs and other topics to the members of the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners at their next meeting.

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PHAR’s Mission:

To empower low-income residents to protect and improve our own communities through collective action.

PHAR’s Vision:

To educate and mentor through collective actions with our partners to empower our residents.

PHAR’s Values:

Given the opportunity, people are capable of obtaining skills to acquire self-worty, self-confidence and self-sufficiency, with the ultimate goal of self-empowerment.

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Please Donate!

PHAR needs to raise $5,000 by the end of the year to make sure our programs continue.

Your gift will help us to leverage funding provided by local and regional foundations, and empower those who are often overlooked by policymakers.

Please consider a making a tax-deductible contribution to PHAR by sending a check today to: PHAR, 1000 Preston Ave., Suite C, Charlottesville, VA 22903.

Thank you for your commitment to empowering Charlottesville public housing residents and their families!

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