News and Tribune

October 9, 2012

New Albany public housing boosted by grant

Funds used to teach self sufficiency, encourage private home ownership

By DANIEL SUDDEATH
daniel.suddeath@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — New Albany has been awarded a $162,965 federal grant that will fund programs and education geared toward helping families move away from public housing through job skills training.

The New Albany Housing Authority, or NAHA, will be able to fund its Family Self Sufficiency program for the 13th consecutive year due to the grant, which was awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD.

The grant is fully-funded, meaning it does not require a local match. The funds are used to hire service coordinators to manage and teach the programs.

The local program has spurred home ownership and employment among public housing residents, said NAHA Executive Director Bob Lane.

“It moved people from the help that they need in public housing to self sufficiency,” Lane said.

Except in cases where a resident is restrained by physical or mental disabilities, the goal of the NAHA is to encourage self sufficiency and move people away from public housing, Lane said.

He credited Lisa Donohue, senior case manager for the NAHA’s family self sufficiency program, and the organization’s grant writer, Cora Huffines, for helping obtain the funding.

In September, HUD awarded $75 million in grants aimed at helping public and assisted housing residents garner jobs, including the funding for the NAHA.

“This funding ultimately links individuals to childcare, computer access, job training and other basic skills individuals need to compete for jobs that pay a living wage,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan in a statement on the organization’s website.

“To continue to grow America’s economy, we must see to it that every American has the skills and resources they need to become gainfully employed.”

New Albany was the only local housing authority to receive a family self sufficiency grant this year.

According to HUD, a study by the organization reviewing the effect of the family self sufficiency program in the country from 2005 to 2009 “showed that financial benefits are substantial for participants who remain and complete the program.”

Lane said there are individual plans and goals established for participants, and residents are rewarded if they meet their marks. He said the staff hired to manage the programs will work with as many as 50 families at times.

“So they get training and they get skills so they can have the opportunity to get better jobs and make a living wage and be able to move into private sector housing,” Lane said.

“We’ve seen cases where people have broken the poverty cycle they’ve had in their families for more than one generation, and that’s exciting.”