By DANIEL SUDDEATH
NEW ALBANY —
The New Albany Housing Authority is attempting to attract partners in hopes of receiving grant funding to rebuild portions of the Broadmeade and Parkview public housing units.
The New Albany Redevelopment Commission agreed last week to split the $15,000 cost of hiring a private firm to aid the NAHA in preparing an application for a federal Choice Neighborhoods planning grant, which could be worth $250,000.
The NAHA was denied the planning grant in 2011, but is still hoping to obtain funds to aid in tearing down 116 units and building 70 more modern apartments.
Those units would be rebuilt off Bono Road in the Parkview Towers, Parkview Terrace and Broadmeade Terrace developments, which combine to create one of the largest continuos public housing sites in Indiana.
The NAHA should know in February if it has garnered state low income housing credits that could help offset the construction costs.
The new units would be more energy efficient and replace the old barracks-style buildings that have been in place for decades.
“It looks like a planned neighborhood,” said NAHA Executive Director Bob Lane of the design for the new units.
Rebuilding the site could create improvements in the surrounding neighborhood as well, he continued.
“What we see is when you take a building and improve it, it spurs investment,” Lane said.
Mixing private and public housing has many proponents.
New Albany City Councilman Dan Coffey, who is also a member of the redevelopment commission, said crowding public housing units onto one site leads to problems.
“Now we have an opportunity to get rid of the warehousing,” Coffey said, as he supported Lane’s request to partner with NAHA on the planning grant.
Applying for the planning grant can be a detailed and expensive process, but officials said it’s worth it because it can lead to larger sums of federal dollars for public housing developments.
The NAHA will eventually replace the 46 units that will not be rebuilt if the plan goes through to tear down 116 current apartments. If the project comes to fruition, Lane said through attrition the NAHA will be able to continue to offer housing to the residents who may be displaced during construction.
Each year, New Albany loses about 33 percent of its public housing residents, Lane said. They move on to another city or move out of the public system, and while they are typically replaced by new tenants, the annual exodus gives the NAHA an opportunity to implement the project.
The majority of the residents who leave public housing typically reside in the Broadmeade and Parkview sites, Lane said.
Thus the demolition of the 116 units will be planned for when several residents have already moved out. Those who remain will be relocated to different units and, if they are in good standing with NAHA, will be allowed to return to a new unit once they are constructed.
The NAHA doesn’t need city approval to move forward with the project, and may proceed even if a federal grant isn’t awarded.
Lane said the project will be broken down into phases and will take a few years to complete.
As public housing dollars continue to be slashed by the federal government, Lane said it’s even more incumbent upon the NAHA to build partnerships and find ways to maintain properties in a more feasible fashion.
The new units would not be rated as public housing but would instead qualify as project-based Section 8, according to Lane.
He added the NAHA has been successful in ushering residents away from public housing. Through its Family Self Sufficiency program, NAHA has generated 29 new homeowners with no defaults in recent years.
For more information on the organization, visit www.newalbanyhousingauthority.org.