WCHA training pays off

The Winnebago County Housing Authority (WCHA) stands to earn an additional $1 million from its relationship with Star Development, one of the partners in Champion Park Partners LLC, the master developer of the HOPE VI Project.

WCHA won an $18.8 million HOPE VI grant last May from the Housing and Urban Development agency. The project will be leveraged by additional monies, raising the total project to $42 million to revitalize the neighborhood around Champion Park. The development will include demolishing the 61 Champion Park apartments and replacing them with 156 new homes scattered throughout the neighborhood. A volunteer board of seven members and a staff of 12 run WCHA. The reporting and management requirements are the same of all housing authorities. HUD rates WCHA a high performer in all categories.

Since there is no HOPE VI School or degree that people or organizations can receive, knowledge of the project is learned through training by people and organizations that have been through the process. WCHA staff have been taking training classes and seminars in various aspects affecting the HOPE VI from reputable sources such as National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO), the WCHA’s professional organization for the last three years in anticipation of being awarded a HOPE VI Project. While this was betting on the come, the training is paying dividends because the WCHA was the only housing authority in the state of Illinois to be awarded a HOPE VI grant for 2003.

The way WCHA will earn the $1 million is through accepting a 50 percent partnership in the management of some of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit portion of the Star Development. Normally, it is traditional in the public housing authority to share in only a 10 percent return for this portion of the project, which equals $300,000, because their involvement is minimal. Because of the extensive training received by staff of WCHA, Star Development felt confident in offering a partnership that will make it possible for the Housing Authority to do this kind of management on their own in the future.

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