The reopening of 16 low-income public housing units at Williamson Terrace on Vinson Street Monday brought warm congratulations from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Pete C. Minter, field office director for that federal agency, Charleston, conveyed those congratulations to the Williamson Housing Authority as he spoke during an open house and dedication program at Williamson’s 71-year-old single-family housing facility, 1026 Vinson St.
“Reopening of Williamson Terrace meets HUD’s goal of expanding the supply of affordable housing,” said Minter. who was the featured speaker at the ribbon-cutting dedication of the landmark facility’s reopening of 16 of its renovated apartments.
Executive Director Vicki Lusk said five refurbished units have been rented. She reported that the Williamson Housing Authority will continue the renovation of the remaining 22 units at Williamson Terrace. “The apartments will be rented out as the buildings are completed,” she said.
#Williamson Mayor Darrin McCormick was enthusiastic about reopening of the 16 units, whose renovation work was completed at a cost of $700,000. He noted that $450,000 of those funds was “stimulus money provided through the Stimulus Bill.”
McCormick noted that the renovation of the remaining units will cost $700,000, bringing the project to about $1.4 million for work on all the units.
“The housing authority does an excellent job providing adequate and formal housing, as well as economic opportunity, in a suitable living environment for a diverse group of individuals,” said the mayor.
He pointed out that elderly and handicapped persons with low and moderate income levels have no place else to turn without the availability of housing such as that provided by the housing authority.
He joined Minter in commending Executive Director Lusk; WHA members Vice Chair Jacqueline Branch, Ricky Wilkerson, Michelle McCormick and Donnie “Butch” Beckett and housing staff on the successful completion and rehabilitation of the project
#McCormick stressed the importance of the Business and Occupation tax paid by the contractors involved in this renovation project, as well as the housing authority’s payments to the city of Williamson in lieu of taxes.
He said the B&O tax received from contractors represents 1 1/2 percent of the city’s general revenue budget. This renovation project “has a significant and positive impact on our community,” the mayor observed.
Williamson Terrace, constructed in 1938, was closed seven years ago with residents being relocated to WHA’s other public housing projects within the city. Those include Goodman Manor at Fourth and Harvey; Liberty Heights in the Vinson Street area, and Victoria Court in West Williamson.
The open house and dedication showcasing the newly renovated housing units began Monday at 10 a.m. when housing authority personnel met at the scene and joined in a tour of the renovated apartments while partaking of refreshments. Rental assistance program information and applications were available on-site during that time. Lusk and Branch welcomed those in attendance and Branch introduced Mayor McCormick.
#The mayor cited the importance of the Williamson Housing Authority and its housing units within the city. He was followed by HUD Field Office Director Minter and closing remarks by Lusk. A ribbon cutting followed.
Minter said when Williamson Terrace was shut down because of its physical condition in 2001, “it greatly concerned HUD that there would be 38 less affordable rental housing units available to low-income families in Mingo County.
“Over the last eight years,” Minter observed, “the local Housing Authority did not receive sufficient funding from HUD to do the needed renovation to reopen Williamson Terrace and meet the ongoing annual cost of maintaining the other housing properties owned by the Authority.”
He said passage in 2009 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided the Williamson Housing Authority with additional HUD funding that enabled the Authority to realize its dream of reopening Williamson Terrace.
“The $442,572 in ARRA funding, coupled with the annual Capital Funds the Authority receives (Lusk listed that amount as $346,473) has enabled the Authority to reopen 16 of the 38 apartments,” Minter said in his review of the project. “I believe this represents Phase I of a long-range plan of the Housing Authority to restore all 38 apartments in this property.”
In touring the apartments, Minter said he was impressed with the Housing Authority’s planning of the apartment renovations, use of energy efficient products and quality of work by the contractors. “The 16 units that have been completed truly provide citizens in Mingo County with safe, decent and affordable housing,” he added.
In final comments, Minter commended the local Housing Authority for timely expending all its ARRA funding. “The timely use of these funds not only offers citizens more affordable rental housing available in the city of Williamson – it provided jobs for individuals during the time the construction was underway.”
Lusk noted that Williamson Terrace has been a landmark within this community for 71 years. “Its beautiful location has provided the Williamson Housing Authority with one of its first opportunities to offer affordable housing to the residents of Williamson,” she observed.
Plans for the facility’s continued renovation include, among various site work, the remodeling of the apartments with new dry wall and central heat and air. The apartments will be rented out as the buildings are completed.
“My board is very excited about reopening this facility,” said Lusk. “They share the same united vision of what can be accomplished in Williamson.”
She said the renovation project actually has a total cost figure of $1.9 million. She reported that Mountain Gas Co. had run all new gas lines in the apartments at no cost to the project.
She urged anyone interested in residing at Williamson Terrace to contact the Williamson Housing Authority office at (304) 235-3270, extension 10, so their name can be added to the waiting list.