Sarasota Housing Authority Resident's Association

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.