By Joseph D. Bryant
Housing Authority of the Birmingham District
The Birmingham Housing Authority was awarded a $738,000 three-year federal grant to expand efforts to help residents find jobs, educational opportunities, and achieve economic and housing self-sufficiency.
The Housing Authority of the Birmingham District (HABD) received the maximum grant amount from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Resident Opportunities and Self Sufficiency – Service Coordinators Program. Only one other agency received the maximum amount, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles.
The new funding will allow HABD to hire three new services coordinators to assist residents. The coordinators will work directly with residents to assess their needs and connect them with education, job training and placement programs to promote self-sufficiency.
HABD currently has two full-time employees in its Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program.
“As we work to redevelop public housing sites, HABD is equally as committed to bringing job training and preparation services to our families,” said HABD President/CEO Michael Lundy. “Financially and socially stable families are just as essential to healthy communities as new housing options. This new funding from HUD provides a strong tool as we work to reach our goal.”
An expanded self-sufficiency program is part of HABD’s “Up and Out” campaign, where residents agree to a five-year plan towards independence.
For example, HABD in December launched its Soft Skills Workforce Development Program for residents living in Southtown Court and Loveman Village.
While all qualified individuals have a right to public housing, the exact location and style of that housing is at the discretion of the housing authority. Lundy said preference for the newest and most desired housing will be given to residents who volunteer for Up and Out.
Lundy stressed that public housing should be temporary for most residents. Self-sufficiency programs provide a desired path to independence.
“This is going to help expedite our Family Self-Sufficiency program and helping people become self-sufficient and not only obtaining jobs, but retaining those jobs and building careers,” Lundy said. “These are seminal programs that empower residents to plan their own futures and realize the dreams of independence and self-determination.”
Family Self-Sufficiency graduates have found employment, advanced to better jobs and have gone from public housing and public assistance to gaining financial and housing independence. Participants include both public housing residents and Section 8 residents.
“This grant represents a major step in enhancing our programs and guiding more residents to a path of independence,” said HABD Director of Resident Services, Galvin Billups. “With the use of new coordinators, we will significantly increase the opportunities for residents to become homeowners by linking them with services and agencies providing homeownership counseling, education and private market funds.”
In all, $32 million in HUD funding was awarded to public housing authorities and other agencies to hire or retain service coordinators. Alabama received nearly $1.4 million through HUD, the bulk going to Birmingham, $492,000 to the Huntsville Housing Authority and $165,000 to the Housing Authority of the City of Eufaula.
“Helping public housing residents find decent jobs that pay a living wage is the surest path to opportunity and self-sufficiency,” HUD Secretary Julián Castro said in his national grant announcement. “This funding provides our local partners with the resources to help more Americans build a brighter future for themselves and their children.”