The Wilson Housing Authority has been named a high performer by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for 2015.
It’s HUD’s highest designation for a top-performing public housing agency.
The WHA scored 94 out of 100 possible points as a part of the federal assessment. Officials score public housing authorities on various indicators including physical inspections of properties, occupancy rates, rental collection rates and the financial health of the agency.
“This is the highest we have ever scored,” said Kelly Vick, WHA president. “I think it shows we are managing our assets well and keeping our properties in great condition. We are housing people in a timely manner.”
The WHA also received a perfect score on its financial indicator as well.
“It shows we are financially sound,” Vick said.
HUD will award the WHA an increase in capital funding as a result of the high-performer status.
“It entitles us to get a little bit more funding, a 3 percent bonus in capital funding for the next year,” Vick said. He said that will help the WHA even more to keep its units in better shape and to perform upgrades that are needed.
Vick said the designation by HUD is the result of a team effort among Wilson Housing Authority employees.
“That shows everybody is performing in a high fashion,” he said.
The WHA owns and operates 747 public housing units and administers 661 Section 8 vouchers. The agency assists 3,000 lower-income individuals with housing in the Wilson area and has 30 staff members. The WHA has an annual budget of $7.5 million generated from federal funding through HUD and tenant rental income.
HOUSING THE HOMELESS
The Wilson Housing Authority has taken on various new projects over the past year, including carrying out its Housing the Homeless initiative.
“We have housed between 60 and 70 (homeless) families and individuals since the beginning of this year,” Vick said.
Vick said it has been made possible due to various community partners working together on the initiative.
Agencies including the Wilson County Department of Social Services, Hope Station, the Wesley Shelter and the American Red Cross work to verify those who are homeless and them refer them to the WHA.
Vick said there are a number of homeless people on the WHA waiting list who are designated as a priority. Wilson has been on the forefront in getting the homeless housed and back on their feet to become self-reliant.
REMODELED UNITS, GARDEN PROJECT AND MORE
The WHA also recently completed an expansive remodeling and modernization project of 26 units in the Whitfield neighborhood beside the Save-A-Youth building, or the former Adams School.
Vick said housing authority staffers used the agency’s capital funding to complete the project.
“We’ve been doing that over the past year,” he said, adding that the units are three and four bedrooms, meaning they can bring in more families to take advantage of the Save-A-Youth program as well.
Vick said the agency was also able to contribute money to help Save-A-Youth replace its roof, which has been recently completed.
“We have some non-public housing that we own and operate,” Vick said. “We had proceeds that came from that and were able to earmark those funds for the Save-A-Youth roof. We thought it was a good asset and utilized in the community.”
Vick said the WHA is also expanding its garden project. Thanks to community leaders and partnerships, residents are given hand-made wooden boxes and plants to grow their own vegetables and herbs.
Whitfield residents were the first to take part in the project last summer. Vick said it was such a success that they are expanding the garden project to Fountain Drive.