Public housing authorities are often thought of as mere housing providers, when in reality they do so much more. Today, we’re proud to feature the great work of three NAHRO members: Laurel Housing Authority (Miss.), Housing Authority of Covington (Ky.), and Norwood (Mass.) Housing Authority.
This year, the Laurel Housing Authority (LHA) provided free Spanish lessons to the public; launched a summer feeding program that provided food for more than 11,000 youth in the community; conducted a disaster preparedness class in conjunction with the America Red Cross; and hosted its 19th annual Spring Break Youth Basketball Tournament. LHA staff also collaborated with a local church to plan its annual Spring Activity Day for youth; celebrated Senior Citizen Day to recognize the engaged and vibrant seniors living at LHA; partnered with a local AIDS coalition group on an AIDS awareness education initiative; and encouraged artistic development in youth by participating in Housing America’s What Home Means to Me poster contest.
For the Housing Authority of Covington (Ky.), 2014 has been a very busy year. The housing authority has spent much of its time investing in opportunities for residents that promote healthy and self-sufficient lives. These include a two-part work readiness class called Get Learning and Start Succeeding (GLASS) and GLASS Transitional Work Opportunities (GTWO); quarterly on-site hiring events featuring companies like Speedway, Amazon and Avon; a monthly ‘Ride n Apply’ no-cost transportation program for residents interested in applying for a job; a Dress for Success program, which helps prepare women for job interviews by providing with them with professional clothing and mock interview practice; computer classes; National Career Readiness Certification (NCRC); and GED study and testing support. The housing authority also sponsored: a family day cookout in collaboration with the National Fatherhood institute; summer camps for youth ages 6-13 and youth ages 16-20; a cardiovascular heart health education workshop sponsored by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute; a WIA CAREER Steps and Ignition program for 14-18 year olds; a free community health clinic in partnership with Northern Kentucky University and the Nurse Advocacy Center for the Underserved; a back-to-school resource fair in August for both children and adults looking to continue their education; a Christmas toy drive; and a meal program for seniors and person with disabilities. Finally, the housing authority implemented a smoke-free housing policy in July and offered cessation support for residents, completed the first round of move-ins in September for its HOPE VI Revitalization project and opened its Housing Choice Voucher waitlist.
At the Norwood Housing Authority (Mass.), a community garden at the Maguire Senior Housing Development was once a vibrant social outlet for senior residents, but a challenging landscape made gardening for seniors with disabilities difficult, and the garden soon went unattended. In 2013, NHA partnered with local organizations Together Yes and Norwood Evening Garden Club to revitalize an onsite greenhouse and relocate the community garden. Upon completion, the new community garden featured raised planting plots for those seniors restricted to a wheelchair. In 2014, the demand to participate in the garden project grew. To meet the demand, NHA added an additional 15 plots for residents. Today, the success of the community garden continues to grow. At the Maguire Senior Housing Development, senior residents are healthier and more social, and building bonds with residents and NHA staff that will last long into their golden years.