PA Housing Authority changing the way it does business

Published 5:45 pm Friday, July 7, 2017

The Port Arthur Housing Authority is beginning to make a 180 in the way they’ve been doing things.

Cele Quesada, executive director of the PAHA, said they are starting to use a mixed finances model to redevelop their public housing units.

The PAHA, likewise, will hold a public hearing at 4 p.m. on July 10 at their office, 920 DeQueen Blvd. in Port Arthur. The purpose of the hearing is to obtain input from Port Arthur residents on the PAHA’s Five-Year Plan submission.

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“We’re modernizing developments so we won’t have a concentration of low income folks,” he said. “With a mixture of very poor and working families it will result in a development more reflective of the community. One that strives to integrate families into the mainstream. We’ve been working on that the last few years.”

Through de-concentration and a self-sufficiency model, there are no plans to build big complexes in the near future. Funding from the Department of U.S. Housing and Urban Development, furthermore, has been cut the past few years. This year saw a 30 percent cut.

“This is a huge cut,” Quesada said. “Our dependence on HUD has lessened to an extent. Our developments rely on income generated through rents.”

The PAHA ordinarily runs more than a 90 percent occupancy rate for their units. Edison Square, meanwhile, has opened only 78 units out of the planned 128 units. Quesada said there’s a section of land that’s still being developed.

“We’ve received some positive feedback about Edison Square,” he said. “We’re moving participants to be self-sufficient.”

Those self-sufficiency efforts include moving residents into single-family homes, education and training, employment and the viability of families in the community.

On the PAHA’s part, Quesada said they must collaborate with agencies such as the Port Arthur ISD, the Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation, and the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce and build on those relationships.

The PAHA’s five-year plan will continue to be engaged in mixed-finance development activities for public housing:

  • Carver Terrace/Lincoln Square apartments was completely demolished in 2016. PAHA completed the relocation process and tenants received tenant protection vouchers.
  • PAHA may seek to replace at least another 66 units of public housing at off-site locations as a result of the 2010 redevelopment of the former Gulf Breeze development, now known as Lakeview Palms.
  • PAHA may explore opportunities to maximize its public housing inventory up to its Faircloth (Section 9(g)(3) of the United States Housing Act of 1937 [“Faircloth Amendment”] limits the construction of new public housing units) limit of 380, by potentially replacing Annual Contributions Contract units at one or more of the agency’s affiliate affordable housing properties.
  • PAHA has intiated the replacement of the public housing units in a multi-phased appro0ach. The first two phases are expected to be comprised of 288 total affordable units, of which approximately 137 will be ACC units at two separate locations. In 2014, PAHA closed on a multi-family mixed-finance development consisting of 184 affordable units at Park Central; 92 of these units are designated as public housing units with the balance of the units designated as project based units and/or low-income tax credit units.
  • Edison Square is anticipated to be up to another 104 units of elderly housing and may be accomplished in multiple phases depending on funding availability. In 2014, PAHA also closed on an elderly development consisting of 78 affordable units at Edison Square. All of these units are designated as project based rental units.
  • PAHA will seek alternative locations to acquire and/or develop for a potential central office in the upcoming year.
  • The agency plans to submit an application for the disposition of 12 scattered sites to the special application center in the upcoming year.
  • All currently available Replacement Housing Factor funds have been accumulated will be dedicated to the redevelopment of public housing units at Park Center Future RHF/Demolition or Disposition Transitional Funding funds that may become available as the result of the disposition and/or demolition of Carver Terrace/Lincoln Square may likely be dedicated to agency’s development efforts to reach its Faircloth limit of ACC units, or may be incorporated into a potential Rental Assistance Demonstration conversion.
  • Environmental assessments and clearance, including monitoring wells, as required, will also be a priority for the Learning Center property located adjacent to Lakeview Palms.