Sarasota Housing Authority Resident's Association

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Latest Developments

I haven't posted for a while... Since that time a major redevelopment has been approved and a significant portion has been built. Some photos of the progress are shown below.

Community Center

Courtyard Between Units

New Units with Stormwater Pond in Foreground

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Task Force Notes - Jan 2007

Present: Valerie, Jackie Diaz, Nancy, Karen, Arthur, Chrystal, Jude, Colby, Pat, Dick, Marion & Marty Goldberg, Susan Slocum, Susan Hallock, Dawn

Meeting called to order by Valerie Buchand. Invocation, greetings and best wishes for the New Year!

Bill Russell provided this report on Redevelopment:

"Michaels has begun work on assessing where to begin a Phase 1 of the redevelopment. A decision on where to begin will occur very soon now. They are also assessing relocation needs for our current families and bedroom size needs as well. They are beginning to engage some contractors to begin pre-development work on things like environmental assessments of the sites, rezoning, architect and site plan preparation, civil engineering work, etc. We are aiming to submit an application for Low Income Housing Tax Credits (a federal program run by the State) this April. Michaels will give a good briefing on things at the resident meeting on January 25th."

Three Michaels representatives walked the sites with Valerie, noticing grand trees to be saved, water and sewer lines noting the distances to schools, pharmacies, grocery stores, and other necessary amenities which need to be within a mile of the public housing projects.

Karen Curry wasn't present to give a report on the Ross Center. Habitat has provided a mobile
classroom to teach locals drywalling and electrical. Paying $10/hr. They will receive a certificate. How to get word out about this opportunity for residents?

Valerie & Bill Russell will be meeting with Chanel Riley, social worker for Janie Poe, to receive a progress report from her. Jewish Family has given her a grant. Her case load is limited to 25 families; there are 126 families in Janie Poe. It is possible that Janie Poe will be the first area to be demolished and redeveloped - 60 units at a time. There have been several electrical fires lately which have put some units out of commission.

Janie Poe Holiday Party report given. It was a great success with many hands. 200 children received food, stickers, gifts. Pictures shared. Dick Clapp asked for a list of the contributors for his housing blog. Party pictures can also be seen on the housing blog.

Trip to Belmont Heights (Tampa) organized by Nancy Richardson. Michaels Co. is building the mixed income project in Tampa now. Michaels has hired residents and the Tampa Housing
Authority has mandated resident meetings (which Valerie would like instituted here in Sarasota). Ms. Williams as the resident president has been involved in the whole process, included in every meeting with the developer.

Group going Tuesday, Jan 23, leaving First Presbyterian at 10 am (Oak & Washington Blvd).
Contact Nancy for further information: 362-2045. Dick, will put the Belmont Heights site on the
housing blog.

Jackie Diaz recently had a meeting with residents to share information about redevelopment. She said that there have been a number of evictions lately. Valerie has a resident meeting for Janie Poe planned for 1/11.

Arthur gave the Treasurer's Report. He is currently keeping the books for the Task Force fund and the Janie Poe Residents fund. HUD payments to the residents fund is given to the resident organizations quarterly. Valerie has found a resident to become the treasurer. Arthur will gladly train her.

The Task Force funds have $450, some funds left over from the Holiday Party were added to the account. Jude asked for approval to use funds to provide gas & tolls money to public housing residents in Tampa who will be attending the Resident Meeting on the 25th and to copy invites and agenda. All agreed.

The Public Housing Resident Meeting has been moved to Thursday, January 25 at 6:30 pm at the Boys and Girls Club on 21st Street. Invitations will be taken to all 388 households on Monday, Jan 22. Those who wish to help will meet at the Janie Poe Community Center at 10 am. We hope to pair a resident with a Task Force member as we go around the four neighborhoods. Childcare and bites for the children will be provided in separate classrooms. A front row panel will be introduced by Nina Burwell, our moderator. Those who will speak are Bill Russell on vouchers, Gionne Jourdan of Michaels Co, about redevelopment plans and resident services for relocation. Mrs. Williams, president of the Belmont Hts resident
group, will speak about her experiences. Opening and closing by the Rev. McKenzie, State Director for Rainbow Push Coalition.

After opening presentations, the floor will be available for questions from residents and community. Answers will be provided by resource folks.

Important topics will be addressed: Difference between Section 8 Choice Voucher and a
Relocation Voucher, can residents be relocated on campus, how does one qualify to return to
public housing or tax supported rentals, how to apply for a low income home with a voucher, residents responsibilities in finding new housing, resident services to be provided by Michaels, etc. What standards must current public housing residents meet to receive vouchers? Will residents in rehab programs be protected by their recpveromg status so they, too, can receive vouchers. Then there will be brief wrap ups by the three presenters. We are hoping for an hour long meeting packed with information. The questions and answers will be processed and a paper will be given to all of the residents during the wk following the meeting (we hope). Susan Hallock, Jim Craig & Jude will be working on this. If you would like to help us, call Jude 365-2314. The invites are titled "Hope in Your Heart" following Colby's idea that buried hope is there and we need to tap into it. The residents have an opportunity to create new directions for their lives...

We hope that residents, Task Force members, community members, City & County officials will attend this important first relocation & redevelopment meeting about the future of Newtown since the signing of the documents between HUD and Michaels Co in December.

No cameras, but press will be there. We hope to sign up some residents to continue to be involved in the redevelopment. Residents want tangible results from this meeting. Speakers: please talk in plain English.

Dick hopes to get out the word that the state Neighborhood Conference will be held in Sarasota this yr.

Let's look for resident leaders to encourage to go. Scholarships are available. Three days
in June, held at the Hyatt.

The next Leadership Academy provided by the City of Sarasota starts in February. It is an eight wk course to educate citizens about how the City works. Jackie and Valerie are encouraged to send their officers.

Judi Hooker and Bill Lewis, past member of the Task Force, send their love & support!

Task Force Goals for 2007:

  • Educating residents
  • Helping resident associations become stronger & more vital
  • Press package

Submitted by Jude Levy

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Public Housing Task Force Report

Sarasota Public Housing Task Force Meeting
Held Tuesday, December 12, 2006, 9 am at
the Newtown Redevelopment Office on MLK

Fifteen Task Force members present. Guest: Dr. Lawrence Miller, Economic Development Coordinatorfor the City.

Update on Public Housing. No reports from public housing officials as none were present. Task Force member asked why Hope VI is mentioned in the contract? The apartment sizes for the new development are being worked out.

The Case Manager of Janie Poe residents, Chanel Irvine, was invited to attend the meeting & give a report. She is seeing families in Janie Poe. We don't know the numbers, etc. She did not attend the meeting.

Nancy Richardson reported the plans for the Task Force to make a trip to Tampa to look at Belmont Heights (mixed income housing being built by Michaels). Arrangements are being made. (Subsequently, a date has been set for Tuesday, January 23.) Contact Nancy for more information: 362-2045

[Dick Clapp is arranging for a church van & Jim Craig has agreed to drive.]

Jean and Susan Slocum reported on the plans for the Janie Poe Holiday Party on Saturday, Dec 16, 4-6 pm. Colby Hill, pastor of Central Church of Crist, made a surprise announcement that his church would contribute 400 wrapped gifts for the children. Sarasota Christian Church partnered to help with gift giving. Food for 250 will be provided by contributions from Whole Foods, Publix and private individuals. Invitations will be delivered to each household the Monday before th eparty. Nancy, Valerie, Geneva, Karen & Susan volunteered to do this. Invitations were also available in Spanish for those households who speak Spanish. Pat Liebert helped us find a translator.

Bill Russell has offered to put in speed bumps on Janie Poe Drive (considering a serious bike accident this past Saturday - youngster on a scooter speeding) the sooner the better. Thank you, Bill.

Jude Levy announced the meeting being planned for residents. It will be held in the Boys & Girls Club on 21st Street, Wednesday, January 17, 6:30 to 8 pm. Nina Burwell will be the moderator. Rather than having a panel, we will invite key players who can respond to residents' questions. The focus will be on the residents. Their involvement in the redevelopment will be crucial. A handout, simply and directly written, will be provided that gives the residents solid ideas so they can plan their futures, people to call to learn more, etc. Jim Craig is helping with this handout.

It is crucial that we understand the definitions of permanent and temporary, regular and relocationvouchers, when & where they can used, etc. so that information can be relayed to the residents. How will we assure a right of return and other crucial matters. The residents must be alerted not to sign anything until they understand their options. Jackie and Valerie, please do what you can to relay that important caution. Chrystal Flores (JP resident) offered to help hand out the meeting notice to residents.

Janie Poe Holiday Party

Children were lined up at 4 pm. They got stickers as they poured into the community room. Karen asked for ages so the gifts could be planned for in the back room.

The majority of children were in the 5 to 10 year old range. A few teens, some Moms & Dads, even new babies joined the party. A dozen Task Force members were present - helping and enjoying the event. Four members of the League of Women Voters helped us, too!

Bill Russell and his daughter came to enjoy the happy occasion. A DJ kept things lively. Decorations were put up (Kelly Kirschner came to pitch in!). Balloons were put around to create a festive atmosphere. Tables were decorated wiith greens (thank you, Dawn). Food was planned, picked up and put out by Susan Slocum and her husband, Eric Jensen. They created the magic that pulled the event together.

The grapes, watermelon, chicken nuggets, nuts and candy canes were enjoyed. The children were completely delightful. Geneva May provided 200 homemade bright red & green frosted cupcakes! Nancy gave us elf hats, decorated, poured juice. Thank you!

Susan had contacted Booker Middle School and they sent 3 dancers who provided some dance routines and then invited the children to twirl with them. Dick Clapp moderated and kept events rolling. Valerie and Jean were the stage managers so all fell into place.

Kudos to Colby, Susan, Pat, the church members and the League of Women Voters volunteers who choreographed the distribution of gifts. Susan Sherman wrapped gift boxes for us. All the gifts, all the food, all the balloons went home with happy kids.

Dawn arranged for a new book give away as they left. Books were left over from the Reading Festival. Almost a 1,000 books ended up in the Janie Poe homes. Gratitude to Mrs. Richardson Kling and Liz Nolan for sorting and distibuting books in every age range & bringing them to the Community Center as the children left.

Thanks to all who contributed time, gifts, support in any fashion.

The Task Force representing the larger community had a shining day! The youngsters in Janie Poe as well as their parents know we care.

Jude & Dick took pictures, which will be passed around at the January Task Force Meeting.

Thanks again!!

Party Time

The Public Housing Task Force hosted a Christmas party for about 100 kids from the Sarasota Housing Authority. We had sandwiches, chicken nuggets, chips, punch, fruit and candy. Red and green cupcakes made for a sweet dessert.

A DJ provided a variety of Holiday music.

Dancers from Booker Middle School presented two ballet interpretations from the Nutcracker, then engaged the kids is a jazzy dance version of Jingle Bells.

Of course presents the order of the day for all the kids.

Bill Russell, Executive Director of the Housing authority, and his new daughter stopped by to join in the festivities.

Kids heading for the food!Bill and his daughter

The D.J. Kids dancing to Jazzy Jingle Bells...

Good food with a smile.
Getting stickers on the way in.

Food.... More food!

And more food. And more food!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Public Housing Moves Forward

This week the Sarasota Housing Authority will sign an agreement with a developer to start the redevelopment process of Sarasota's public housing - a process that has been started numerous times but never got off the ground. Maybe this time will be different.

In yesterday's SHT a series of articles describes the history, the current proposal and the hope and fears of the community:

SARASOTA -- For years, Newtown -- the historically black, low-income
neighborhood north of downtown -- has been a subject of wishful talk and failed
attempts to kick off urban renewal.

On Thursday afternoon, a deal will be struck that could change all that.

If the plan works, Newtown will experience a revival that alters its physical, social and economic landscape so dramatically that it could also change the character of the city that has so long neglected it.

Wrecking balls will make rubble out of four of the city's five housing projects. Those 388 families, like it or not, will be given rental vouchers to relocate elsewhere. And developers will erect market-quality apartments and condos.

Two-thirds of those homes will be set aside for low- to moderate-income families. The remainder are to be rented or sold to middle-class newcomers who would otherwise spurn that part of town.

Dale White has done an excellent job chronicling this story since the latest management team - Carmen Valenti and Bill Russell - have been on board. In addition to the above mentioned article thaer is an article on the developers plan and another about a similar project in Tampa done by the same developer, Michaels Development Co.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Redevelopment Agreement

An agreement with the developer for the proposed re-development of the Sarasota Public Housing site has been reached. See the following from Bill Russell.

I am pleased to say that we have reached an agreement with Michaels on all outstanding items and Carmen will hold a special board meeting on Thursday, December 7, 2006 at 4pm at the McCown Towers Board Room to officially approve of HACS entering into a Master Developer Agreement with Michaels.

William Russell
Executive Director
Housing Authority of the City of Sarasota

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Public Housing Community Carnival

Friday, June 30, 2006

It was overcast and a few drops of rain fell, but the open lawns behind the Boys and Girls Club were filled with youngsters from public housing!

I counted about 100. Many mothers were near by. Many teens from the churches helped with the games.

The children, from 3 to 13, were having playful designs painted on their faces, eating cotton candy and popcorn, jumping on the blow up jungle gyms, playing basketball, listening to Christian rock music - live on stage, and best of all, more times than not hitting the lever that dunked a game and grinning Bill Russell in his swimshorts into the raised tank. What a good sport!

Three churches Lakewood Ranch Presbyterian, Faith Church and Bethesda Outreach along with the Boys and Girls Club hosted this successful community carnival. I didn't see any Task Force members, but the ABC cameraman was leaving as I arrived so maybe there will be some coverage on the evening news.

The churches and youngsters cleaned up the grounds of the Boys and Girls Club earlier in the week and one of the minister's told me the youngsters enjoyed helping in the task.

I hope I got some good pictures of the celebration to share. My heart swells when these contained children look into my camera and smile, letting out their radiance.

Thanks to Karen, Bill and all those who made this a success!

Bill Russell, Executive Director of the Housing Authority, sits on the "hot seat".

Predictably, he gets "cooled off" with a big splash!

[Thanks to Jude Levy of the Public Housing Task Force for writing this story, and to Karen Curry, Housing Authority, for contributiong the pictures.]

Thursday, July 27, 2006

HA Board Meeting of July 19

Housing Authority of the City of Sarasota
Board of Commissioners
Regular Board Meeting, July 19

The HIPPE program has been asked to move out of Janie Poe community center.

A pre-school for public housing youngsters will be put in its place. This to serve more residents.

Three & four year old children will be provided activites. One year contract signed. If it goes well, program will be renewed on an annual basis. Will start in January, serving 20 to 46 children.

Karen Curry is writing grants for new services. Consulting with residents and resident leaders was requested. Karen will be meeting with Valerie Buchand and Jackie Diaz soon.

A Ross Training Center will be located in the JP community center. They will provide assessment, employment & employment support to help towards self sufficiency and in some cases, home ownership.

Ross will provide a broad spectrum of programs including ESL, adult literarcy, GED, job training and interview skills. Ross will be bringing employers on site. Karen is developing a partnership with Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Coit Architects, Olsted Staffing, and Washington Mutual. The bank will help residents repair poor credit records, set up bank accounts. A daycare facility is planned. Home Depot and Dooley Mack have offered help with structural changes, supplies and manpower to make space usable.

Karen will be meeting with SCAT hoping to amend routes to better serve residents. Karen is working to hire a driver and a vehicle to serve resident needs.

Geneva Mays says she remembers growing up with HIPPE, they provided needed services to children in public housing, made home visits. What about children who cannot get to their new location on MLK?

She remembers residents providing lawn service, lawnmowers were given to them to pitch in. Carmen Valenti reminded her this was a new day - no longer push lawnmowers & lawsuits.

HA exploring contracting with outside companies to provide landscaping maintenance.

Contract signed to paint interiors of 50 Bertha Mitchell units. Community Foundation grant to Jewish Family Service to provide a full time case worker for public housing families in Janie Poe. She will start July 24. One resident suggested contacting Friendship Services about providing a social worker for the seniors.

HA cracking down on illegal parking with towing services. No trespassing City signs pulled down. Still, the police are enforcing the no trespassing ordinance.

Occupancy has gone from 99.3% to 100%. Turn around time prepping units is now 10 days. Record time. 579 work orders were handled in 1.5 days per w/o. Rent collections 100% in June.

Congratulations to Housing Authority and residents. Tomorrow contractor will start painting McCown Towers as well as resurfacing and restriping the parking lot. 17 units in the Courts need handrails and that will be taken care of. For those residents living on the south side of 21st Street, a 6 ft. chainlink fence will be put up to stop drivers cutting through on the grass.

Under New Business: Bill Russell, Exec Director, brought up the survey of area rents to provide new guidelines for those tenants who pay a flat rent. Most residents pay 30% of their gross income on housing, but a few (32) choose to pay a flat rent. The incentive to them was the possibility to make more income from time to time and not have to have to declare income on a monthly basis. The HA felt the flat rents were too low and hadn't been adjusted for some time. Of course, public housing units don't have central air, aren't insulated, don't offer many amenities, so rates were adjusted downward taking this into account. One bedroom elderly units will go up to $500 a mo, one bedroom in family public housing will go up to $400, 2 br to $500, 3 br to $600, 4 br to $700 and 5 br to $750. All residents can opt for the 30% formula.

This new policy will go out on August 1st for resident comments. 31 days to respond.

When redevelopment arrives in the next year to year one-half, residents need to be prepared for moving out into the community. This is why we are bringing in these resident services, Carmen Valenti, HUD Receiver, commented. There's a tremendous need for education, for amongst adults only 50% have a high school degree.

Years ago, HUD thought it would be a good match to put seniors and young disabled families together. It hasn't worked, noted Bill Russell. Now the HA will focus on seniors only buildings in time, through attrition, McCown Towers will be seniors only. Also a security guard is needed at McCown Towers more than just on weekends. Apparently homeless citizens are coming in.

Mary Anne Servian asked that this situation be documented. Since the HA cannot afford a full time guard, Russell will ask Sarasota Police for more patrolling. A new CRT police person will be located in Rosemary. Russell thanked Servian for the hiring. There's also a full time gang officer on the streets. Police have put a substation in a house on the corner of 21st & Dixie.

submitted by
Jude Levy

Housing Redevelopment in Miami

There is an interesting story in the Miami Herald concerning the Miami Housing Authority and development. It begins:

Housing agency is an ATM for developers

In the nation's least affordable city, the Miami-Dade Housing Agency lost millions to developers who built nothing, stranding the poor in decrepit and unsafe homes

The story chronicles a housing redevelopment process that has gone wrong.

It is well worth reading.