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State’s first Envision Center comes to HABD’s Marks Village

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From left: Birmingham City Councilor Darrell O’Quinn; HUD Regional Administrator Denise Cleveland- Leggett; HUD Director of the Birmingham Field Office Velma Byron and HABD President/CEO Michael O. Lundy. (Provided Photo)

The Birmingham Times

The Campus of Hope, a one-stop shop for residents to achieve goals of self-sufficiency, in Marks Village has been designated a HUD Envision Center demonstration site, the first in the state of Alabama.

The celebration took place last week with U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) officials; Birmingham Housing Authority leaders, city officials and the Woodlawn High School Marching Colonels part of the ceremony.

According to HUD, its Envision Centers are collective efforts across a diverse set of organizations, both public and private, that help low-income individuals and families. Programs are based on the Envision Center’s four pillars: economic empowerment; educational advancement; health and wellness; and character development. 

Michael Lundy, Housing Authority of Birmingham District’s President/CEO, said a number of factors made Marks Village an ideal site for Envision Center at the Campus of Hope. The public housing site, he said, is the most challenging of all 14 HABD locations with an annual family income average of $11,000, lowest of all the sites and crime statistics among the highest, he said.

“We believe that as we lift Marks Village up as a beacon of hope . . . as a beacon of light . . . as a beacon of success, then public housing residents across the four corners of Birmingham will be able to stand up and say ‘if Marks Village can rise and shine like the brightest star in the sky, so can we’ . . .it’s where hopelessness ends and hope begins,” he said.

Denise Cleveland-Leggett, HUD’s Southeast Regional Administrator, said, “We have to give people more than just a house. It’s great to have a place to live but you have to give people more than that,” she said. “When you look into the eyes of an individual and they don’t have hope for themselves, they don’t have hope for their families, don’t have hope for their future — that’s a dream killer. So, what this Campus of Hope is doing it is bringing hope, putting hope back in the eyes of our people.”

Cleveland-Leggett presented Lundy and HABD Board of Commissioners with a congratulatory letter that read in part, “… HUD looks forward to assisting and supporting your Envision Center demonstration site by helping to build program capacity, increase federal and local partnerships, address identified service gaps and engage stakeholders to meet community needs.”