POST FALLS, IDAHO - Four miles east of the Washington-Idaho state line, eight miles west of Coeur d'Alene and in an area of "mountains and lush farmland," its Chamber of Commerce beams, with "30 golf courses, the North Idaho Centennial Trail, 3 state parks, 55 lakes" and three ski resorts, Post Falls, Idaho is a little bit of paradise waiting to be discovered.
More Than One Basket
By Lee Jones, Region 10 Public Affairs Officer (Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Alaska)
The Housing Authority of Portland is receiving almost $13.7 million in funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed by the Congress and signed by President Obama last year.
Visit the housing authority's website and you realize quickly that it's following advice your mom and dad probably gave you to not spend all of its funds in one place or put all its Recovery Act resources into one basket.
To the contrary, the key to the authority's plan is balance, using these one-time funds for urgent repairs and upgrades at more than 15 of its housing complexes all across the city. At Camellia Court on North Lombard Street, for example, it's using Recovery Act funds to upgrade plumbing and electrical systems. At Stark Manor on SE 217th Avenue its using the funds to help renovate kitchens and bathrooms. It's installing new furnaces and water heaters at Celilo Court on NE 95th Avenue. And it's putting in energy-efficient windows at Harold Lee Village on SE 112th Avenue.
That said, the authority does have at least one "big ticket" project on its Recovery Act portfolio - the eight-story Resource Access Center it wants to build at the request of the City of Portland near Union Station in downtown. The building is one of nine key recommendations made by the Citizens Commission on Homelessness in its Home Again: A Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness in Portland and Multnomah County that was adopted by the Portland City Council and Multnomah County Commission in 2004 to "provide homeless people direct access to programs that move them into permanent housing."
When completed, the LEED-certified Center will include a day shelter, 130 studio apartments for homeless individuals and couples who need permanent, affordable housing and a modern shelter for up to 90 homeless men. It will also provide services - and lots of them - to an estimated 1,000 Portlanders a day. At the Resource Access Center, they'll find housing, employment and treatment counseling, hot showers, storage and communication services to help with job and housing services. Simply put, it's a one-stop hub where folks who are down on their luck can go for help them get off the streets and back on their feet.
But the homeless aren't the only ones who will benefit. So will the surrounding community. There no longer will be sidewalk queues of people waiting for the services they need. The Resource Access Center will replace an aging men's shelter which will be demolished and the site used for more affordable workforce housing. And, in a period when so many construction sites have shut down, building the Center will employ 125 members of the construction trades industry.
On September 30th, the Resource Access Center received the final piece of financial support it needs to move its dream when authority executive director Steve Rudman was able to announce it had been competitively awarded some $3.3 million in Recovery Act funds that would help it to "close financing" on the $46 million project. With so much to be grateful for, ground was broken.
Rebuilding a Neighborhood, Rebuilding the Workforce
Rebuilding a neighborhood devastated by the housing crisis means rebuilding its workforce as well. The Recovery Act is working with local non-profits and small businesses to create jobs for the people of Baltimore. It is creating jobs for people like Omar Livingston.
Omar is a graduate of the Baltimore Jumpstart program, run by the Job Opportunities Task Force. They have provided Omar with 13 weeks of classroom instruction, math classes focusing on the construction industry, and hands on carpentry training. With the new skills he learned in Jumpstart, C.L. McCoy Framing gave him a job. Omar is working as a general laborer on the City Arts project in the Station North. This approximately $13 million dollar project was stalled due to the housing crisis, but thanks to the Recovery Act and $2.6 million in TCAP funds, the project is in progress again and Omar is going to work.
Being a general laborer is hard work, but for Omar it's just the first step in a new career. With the experience he will gain working at City Arts he will be eligible to become an apprentice carpenter, and eventually earn his carpenter's license. The Recovery Act isn't just giving Omar a job, it's helping him start a career.
Of course, Omar isn't the only one working on the City Arts project. Recovery Act dollars are helping established small businesses across the city. Times were hard for M&N Professional Concrete Construction. The credit crisis meant no major projects were being built. M&N was about to shut down and lay off the entire crew. The Recovery Act jumpstarted construction at City Arts just in time. The $200,000 concrete subcontract is enough to keep the doors open at M&N and keep their crew hard at work. Now instead of applying for unemployment, they are hard at work turning a vacant lot into affordable housing and an anchor for neighborhood revitalization.
Turning a disadvantage into an advantage
Caitlin Frumerie, Rhode Island's Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program (HPRP) Coordinator, is quick to point out how the state has been able to take the disadvantage of being a small state and turn it into a significant advantage when it comes to collaboration. Three entitlement communities and the state of Rhode Island have come together to create a unique partnership for the administration of their HPRP funds. By combining their resources, they have created an efficient and well-organized state-wide network.
Breaking down municipal boundaries has been especially beneficial for clients. Agencies can now look for solutions that are the best-fit for each individual regardless of borders. The set-up of the program has also provided agencies with a more holistic approach; they are connecting clients with HPRP resources but also with food stamps, legal aid, and other forms of assistance. Rhode Island's HPRP program is a true collaboration at both the top and bottom.
An additional and unexpected benefit of the HPRP program has been the creation of 20-30 new jobs state-wide, primarily as case managers and program managers. In total, there is a network of 65 program coordinators who meet regularly and are on a first-name basis, helping to achieve true partnerships on the ground.
Both the City of Providence and the City of Newport are benefiting from Rhode Island's centralized HPRP program. Each city has participating agencies working on the ground to address the needs of individuals and families facing the possibility of becoming homeless. For example, Family Service of Rhode Island has served approximately 75 people in Providence to date with HPRP funds. Two success stories from Family Service follow:
"A single father who lives in Providence lost his house due to a loss of income because of marital issues that left him with twin boys. HPRP was able to find him a three bedroom apartment, stabilize his utilities, and help him find employment. He attended the financial management classes and was connected with community support that helped to stabilize his entire family."
"A family who lives in Providence, a mother, father, grandmother and four children were about to be homeless due to the father's loss of income. They came to us and we were able to help them find a single family home that met their budget and stabilized their lives."