Community Organizing

PHAR needs you to stand up, speak up, speak up, and act out to protect and improve our public housing communities!
Please contact Brandon at brandon@pharcville.org or (434) 984-3255 if you are interested in joining the struggle!

Currently we are organizing on a number of fronts- and we need your help:
– Positive Vision of Resident Directed Redevelopment
– Safety
– Mold and Air Quality Improvements
– Confronting Racism in the Juvenile Justice System
… and much more!

Accomplishments 2015

PHAR accomplished a great deal in terms of community education, leadership development and organizing in order to improve the quality of life for close to 1,000 of Charlottesville’s most vulnerable residents.  Highlights of PHAR’s 2015 accomplishments include the following:

1. Redevelopment, improving facilities, and assuring residents are informed and guiding policy decisions.

  • Developed a “Positive Vision of Resident Directed Redevelopment”
    PHAR steadfastly began an effort to articulate resident desires for the future of public housing. Research, work sessions, doorknocking, surveying, and workshops led to an initial working draft of the Positive Vision. Over 100 residents contributed to the creation of the “Positive Vision”. PHAR participated in community discussions regarding RAD (Rental Assistance Demonstration), Citizen Engagement, and Asset Based Community Engagement. PHAR participated greatly in presentations with consultants from the Alexandria Housing Authority to learn about possible Redevelopment funding. PHAR and residents gave valuable input into UVA student led reports regarding the past, present, and future of public housing.
  • Won changes to CRHA’s proposed Admissions and Continued Occupancy Plan, Annual Plan, and Capital Improvement Plan
    PHAR mobilized scores of residents to win passage of an Eviction Prevention Policy and improved resident access to community centers through negotiations with the CRHA. PHAR gained commitments to improving Air Quality Improvements and Safety through the CRHA Annual Plan and advocated for and won a Preference in Admissions for Homeless Families. PHAR gained commitments from CRHA to repair and replace lighting, address water run-off and erosion leading to air quality issues, install bathroom fans and address long standing maintenance needs by a coordinated maintenance plan in place through the CRHA Capital Fund.
  • Coordinated with Residents, City, and CRHA on the replacement of CRHA Executive Director
    PHAR ensured that residents were well informed of the news of the departure of the Executive Director after coordinating with the City and CRHA to ensure success in changing leadership at CRHA would succeed. PHAR and residents participated in the re-writing of the job description for recruitment of a new director, and in 2016 was deeply involved in the interviewing and orientation for Director applicants.
  • Began a multi-faceted campaign to improve resident safety
    PHAR conducted extensive outreach through conversations, meetings, and surveys to learn of resident concerns about safety in the neighborhoods and crafted extensive recommendations for a coordinated effort to improve resident safety. As a result, CRHA and the Police Department have (finally) begun to enforce the 2012 No Trespassing Policy, CRHA has begun to address lighting (a work in progress) on all of the sites, and the Resident Services Committee has established a safety sub-committee to address and implement PHAR’s recommendations. CRHA, PHAR, and the Police Department have begun coordinating on making “relational policing” a successful reality.
  • Conducted Resident Education and Assisted Individuals
    Every neighborhood has been doorknocked at least 7 times with information and/or opportunities for involvement.  Additionally, PHAR works extensively each month with residents of Crescent Halls, a high-rise apartment building for elderly people and residents with disabilities. PHAR gave frequent updates to residents regarding meeting times, policy changes, and fact sheets clarifying CRHA policies. PHAR made sure residents were aware of on-going CRHA issues such as the sink hole at Westhaven. PHAR helped residents during HUD inspections by providing cooling rooms, and helped to distribute information about air conditioners. PHAR helped over 30 individuals successfully resolve disputes and problems with the CRHA. PHAR distributed information regarding job and training opportunities for low-income residents.

2. PHAR was involved in several national and local initiatives related to public housing residents, civic participation and remedies to poverty.

  • PHAR collaborated and shared information with national and local advocates
    PHAR has been example of successful organizing around RAD, and has connected with resident organizations in San Francisco, Baltimore, Nashville, New Jersey, and Connecticut. PHAR participated in the Thomas Jefferson Coalition for the Homeless “Homeless Symposium”. PHAR staff member Deirdre Gilmore continued to serve on the NLIHC Board of Directors. PHAR worked closely with community partners Legal Aid Justice Center and advises and participates with Region 10, Black Male Achievement, Growing for Change, and the UVA Living Wage Campaign. PHAR is excited to support the newly formed Friendship Court resident Association and PHAR Advisory Board members have contributed to their successful organizing efforts. PHAR educated the broader community by speaking at an area church, and meeting with 3 classes at UVA and Tandem.
  • The PHAR Internship Program: intensive civic engagement impacting all residents of public housing in Charlottesville
    PHAR began two groups of our nationally recognized Internship Program graduating 6 residents in September with another group of 5 set to graduate in April 2016. Approximately 900 additional residents benefit from the community education, outreach, organizing and advocacy provided through the Internship Program each year.  Interns are engaged in a six-month curriculum covering a wide variety of topics, including Understanding Your Lease, How Public Housing Works, Community Organizing, Strategic Planning, Media, Speech Crafting, etc. Interns were instrumental in development of the “Positive Vision for Redevelopment”, designing and implementing the Safety Campaign, and working for CRHA operational and management improvements.
  • Racial Profiling and Disparities in the criminal justice system.
    PHAR leaders and staff participated in meetings and community forums tackling racial disparities, the numbers of black children who have contact with the police, go through intake, and ultimately all too often end up incarcerated. PHAR participates on the DMC Task Force working to address racial disparities in the juvenile justice system. Additionally, PHAR has become involved in addressing racial profiling of adults and in May partnered with the NAACP to bring a lawsuit to the City requesting much need information on racial profiling of African-Americans in Charlotttesville.

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OTHER ACCOMPLISMENTS OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS

  • Won a fair process for consideration of RAD: Rental Assistance Demonstration Program
    PHAR educated and involved hundreds of residents about RAD, a HUD demonstration program which re-finances public housing in order to leverage redevelopment funding.  RAD significantly changes residents’ rights and removes all converted properties from the permanent affordability protections afforded to public housing.  The Housing Authority attempted an “end run,” ignoring the Residents’ Bill of Rights for Redevelopment, a set of principles adopted by both the Housing Authority and City Council.  PHAR’s involvement ensured a thorough consideration, including resident input as well as oversight and involvement from City Councilors and the City Manager.
  • Won changes to CRHA’s proposed Admissions and Continued Occupancy Plan
    PHAR mobilized hundreds of residents to oppose harmful changes to CRHA’s Admissions and Continued Occupancy Plan (ACOP) which would have had a negative impact on residents by increasing minimum rents, increasing late fees, and other changes that residents were opposed to. PHAR organized a rally and march in May for justice and dignity in public housing which was highly effective in compelling the CRHA to resist making the harmful policy changes.
  • Plaintiff in Successful Utility Overcharge Lawsuit
    PHAR is a plaintiff in the Excess Utility lawsuit filed by the Legal Aid Justice Center.  The ruling validates the claims residents began voicing years ago, showing overcharges to tenant utility costs in violation of HUD standards.  We are currently working with the Legal Aid Justice Center to ensure residents receive the refunds awarded by the court.