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As 2019 fast approaches, it’s important to take a moment to reflect on and celebrate all that was accomplished in 2018, a valuable practice both personally and professionally.
For the Housing Authority of the City of Tulsa, 2018 was a banner year marked with positive change and momentum that will carry us through the next several years. I must acknowledge the ongoing support of our board of commissioners; their leadership has been incredibly important in helping us achieve our goals.
Below are highlights from the past year that we’re particularly proud of:
Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant
Tulsa was fortunate to be one of only five cities in the United States to receive the Choice Neighborhood Implementation (CNI) Grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Tulsa Housing Authority and the City of Tulsa received $30 million from HUD to transform the Eugene Field neighborhood. To accomplish the community’s goals for the neighborhood requires additional funding, and our philanthropic and social service partners showed up and showed out, providing an additional $39 million in funds and a grant application with unrivaled partnership from community organizations.
The work completed as part of this project will result in the River West development, a mixed-use, mixed-income community offering quality education, viable employment opportunities and improved parks, green space and public safety. River West will become a community wherein its residents can thrive for many years to come.
Planning for the revitalization of the 36th North corridor kicked off in 2018 with our Envision Comanche project. As I type this update, several residents of our Comanche Park residence are knocking on their neighbors’ doors to ask what they want to see from the community and also to gauge their need for support services. The process is community driven and, like River West, will result in a mixed-income community that offers a one-for-one replacement of the site’s existing units. The development will be green, sustainable and financially feasible.
Eviction Process Changes
I’m incredibly proud of the changes brought forth by our legal team that have resulted in a significant reduction in evictions. As our general counsel stated in a recent Tulsa World interview, “We’re a housing authority. We’re here to house people; that’s our mission. So whatever we can do to keep tenants in their homes, that’s our goal.”
In the first 10 months of 2018 we filed 241 evictions; compare that to 882 eviction filings in 2016. As you can see in these figures alone, we’re committed to keeping our residents in their homes as long as they need our services.
Family Self-Sufficiency Program
Our nonprofit partner, Housing Partners of Tulsa (HPT), has helped both our residents and the community through the supportive services and education opportunities they offer in a compassionate and caring environment.
In 2018, HPT celebrated the graduation of 14 participants of the Family Self-Sufficiency program, which helps its enrollees achieve their goals while also earning money via an escrow account. More than $166,000 in escrow payments was distributed to graduates in 2018 to help graduates achieve their dreams, be it homeownership, starting a business or earning a degree.
Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office Partnership
The safety and security of our residents is our top priority; everyone deserves to feel safe in their home. To further improve safety of our communities, in 2018 we partnered with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office to form the Community Enhancement Unit, a team of officers that monitor our public housing sites while engaging in community policing activities. This has proven to be an effective partnership that we are very grateful for.
Veterans Assistance Supportive Housing Voucher Increase
We were awarded 10 additional Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) Vouchers in 2018, bringing the total to 70. We are proud to be a part of the continuum of care for our local veterans; in 2018 veteran homelessness dropped 10.3 percent in Oklahoma over the prior year, a significant reduction that should be celebrated while highlighting the existing and ongoing need.
To learn more about how the VASH program supports local vets, watch this story from KOTV Channel 6.
What I’ve shared above represents only a fraction of the exceptional work of our team in 2018. I hope you’ll stay tuned as we share exciting plans for 2019 and beyond.
Housing Authority of the City of Tulsa