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New Albany moving forward with plans to renovate, demolish and rebuild public housing units

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NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WDRB) -- The New Albany Housing Authority is making progress with new plans to renovate, demolish and rebuild existing public housing units. The board is starting a partnership with New Hope Services to build two brand new affordable housing developments.

NAHA hired a company out of Maryland to assess all 1,087 units to determine what is in need of attention and how much work it would take to fix it.

“We needed a comprehensive analysis of exactly what issues we have here and what strengths we have,” said David Duggins, interim director of NAHA. “And really what the cost over a 20-year period would be to repair and maintain and move forward in that nature."

Duggins said the company finished its report in mid-April, and the board is reviewing it now. Once NAHA comes up with a better plan, it will need to be sent off to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in Indianapolis, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Duggins said he hopes to have a clear plan of what will be renovated and what will be rebuilt by late July.

The units are small, outdated and in disrepair. Many were built in the 1940s or 1950s. Duggins said he hopes the updated units will have more storage space and bathrooms and better appliances to accommodate families and suit the modern times.

“It’s probably over $100 million to do what we really want to do,” Mayor Jeff Gahan said. “So it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take some local money, it’s going to take some state money, it’s going to take federal money, and it’s going to take some private funds as well.”

Gahan said HUD is $57 billion behind in deferred maintenance for projects across the country.

“I’s obvious that if we just sit back and wait for HUD to take care of this situation, it’s not going to happen,” he said.

To help fund new projects, NAHA recently partnered with New Hope Services. The non-profit, with headquarters in Jeffersonville, has built affordable housing developments in 20 Indiana counties. New Hope Services’ president and CEO Jim Bosley said he is looking forward to working with NAHA for a project right in their backyard.

“It’s probably one of the most exciting things that has been done here in New Albany Housing since we built our last complex in 1982,” Duggins said.

One of the developments, Olive Grove, is planned for a vacant lot off Linden Street in New Albany. The plan allows for 18 buildings, a total of 36 units. They will be brick patio homes with three or four bedrooms and garages.

Bosley said one of the exciting things about the development is that they will be lease-to-own properties. So residents will be able to own the home after 15 years.

Duggins added that these will be homes “anyone would be proud to live in.” In New Albany, to qualify for public housing, you must make 30 percent of the area median income (AMI). But Duggins said Olive Grove will be considered affordable housing.

“These units will be allowed to have 60 percent AMI, 50 percent and 30," he said. "So you have that nice mix of income levels."

Bosley said the Olive Grove townhomes will look similar to their Aberdeen Wood development in Jeffersonville.

The other development location with New Hope Services will be an apartment complex. They intend to build in the Valley View area. The units will be made out of brick and siding to fit in with the surrounding homes.

Duggins said both developments will have parks, gazebos and community centers on the property.

Bosley said they will be submitting the tax credit applications in July and expect to hear back by November. If all goes according to plan, they could begin construction in May 2019. New Hope Services would own and manage the properties, but NAHA residents would be able to apply for the units.

“The main thing we’re trying to accomplish is to make it a better place for everyone to live,” Gahan said.

When the board first announced it was planning to make changes to the current public housing units, many residents were concerned they would be displaced.

“When we first announced, there was a lot of concern people were going to be displaced,” Gahan said.

Gahan and Duggins emphasized that at no point will any resident be displaced or homeless. And for any current units that will need to be demolished and rebuilt, Duggins said those resident will be offered vouchers to transfer into any of the new homes built with New Hope Services.

“I think it’s important for people to know that the New Albany Housing Authority and the new interim director and the new board is working well to execute these plans," Gahan said. "They’re doing a great job."

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