May 25 – The Owensboro Housing Authority hopes to begin a $53 million renovation of Rolling Heights apartment complexes this fall, with plans to remodel each apartment and change the name of the neighborhood.
Shauna Boom, executive director of the Housing Authority, said the area will be renamed Churchill Park. Housing Authority officials are still working out the details with state and federal officials, but hope work can begin in September, Boom said.
“It was about time,” Boom said of the renovation. Apartment complexes “have only been around since the 1950s”.
There are 248 units in Rolling Heights. The Housing Authority is calling for a low income housing tax credit scheme to fund the work. The program allows private investors to buy the tax credits, which finance the work. These investors then benefit from a tax credit for 10 years after the end of the work.
Boom said the process for applying for the 4% tax credits was competitive, but officials at all levels were working hard to get the credits for the project.
“I think everyone wants it to be a hit,” Boom said. “It’s just going (through) all the steps to get there.”
The plan is basically to gut the complex and build a new interior.
“The walls will be pretty much the only thing left,” she said.
Twelve units will be made fully accessible to meet Department of Housing and Urban Development 504 standards for persons with disabilities in HUD-funded programs and activities.
The decision to rename the area Churchill Park is “an opportunity to give (the neighborhood) a new identity”.
“We need a rebrand,” Boom said. “When people think of Rolling Heights, they think of the Housing Authority. The old term was ‘the projects’ and we tried to get away from that forever.”
Tenants will not be moved out of the area. Boom said in January that the Housing Authority had stopped renting units in some complexes, so existing tenants will be able to move into the buildings when work begins.
The Housing Office will cover the tenants’ moving costs. As work progresses, tenants will be moved from their current units to the renovated units, Boom said.
“No one will be relocated,” she said. “They will just be moved inside the complex.”
The complexes will be owned by Investing in Communities, a not-for-profit organization set up by the Housing Authority. The Housing Authority will still handle all maintenance and rent collection.
“The Housing Authority is still the property manager,” Boom said.
The complex will become Section 8 housing. The complexes are already public housing, where tenants pay what they can and a percentage of the balance is paid to the Housing Authority by HUD.
Converting units to Section 8 means the Housing Authority will receive funds from HUD every 60 to 80 days, as opposed to an annual payment, Boom said, which will alleviate cash flow issues that have arisen during the COVID pandemic. -19.
“We had a period when people couldn’t afford to pay rent,” so no funds were coming in, Boom said.
James Mayse, 270-691-7303, [email protected], Twitter: @JamesMayse