The Utica Municipal Housing Authority Office of Grants,Programs, Compliance, and Monitoring oversess the development of grant proposals, compliance monitoring, fiscal accountability, and grant reporting. In light of reduced federal funding for our programs, we are committed to diversifying our funding and creating social enterprises to continue providing services for the residents of the City of Utica. The following is an update on grants to the UMHA.
The UMHA Modernization Department and Maintenance staff are responsible for overseeing daily and routine maintenance as well as completing capital improvement projects. Through funding provided by the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority and M&T bank, the UMHA has completed the installation of 8.2 million dollars in new energy conservation and capital improvements. The UMHA has received $4,572,043 in both competitive and formula ARRA funds to install energy improvements and modernize public housing units. All ARRA funds will be expended by the September 2012 deadline. Improvements included heating/hot water upgrades, boiler replacement, window replacement, and installation of new entry doors.
In 2011-2012, renovations financed by the Public Housing Capital Fund included the following activities: construction of storage garages at Gillmore Village, N.D. Peters, and Humphrey Gardens and installation of energy efficient toilets. A major renovation program is underway at the Chancellor Apartments which will install new kitchens, entry doors, security cameras, and lighting.
It is the Housing Authority’s goal that staff of the Maintenance Department demonstrates a superior level of pride and expertise in their work. The usual program of routine and non-routine repairs by our Maintenance staff continued in 2011. These activities include lawn care, snow removal, general cleaning of buildings and grounds, unit repairs, floor and window coverings, screen door replacement, and painting. The Maintenance staff is responsible for routine and non-routine repairs, emergency repairs, and vacancy preparation for 999 housing units owned and operated by the UMHA. Maintenance received and prepared over 150 units for occupancy, and completed 3,210 emergency and routine work orders for dwelling repairs.
The UMHA has become EPA lead renovation certified firms. The UMHA is continuing to make available training to staff to ensure that employees meet HUD and EPA lead hazard control work practices standards.
The Asset Management Department manages 999 units including 871 public housing and 93 project-based units. An annual reexamination is required for every household. Annual reexamination requires verification of income and documentation of family status. Some programs require that an interim reexamination is conducted when a family has a change in income. The Public Housing program within the Asset Management department is required to enter family data into the PIC system that reports to HUD.
UMHA has been designated as a high performer housing authority and has reported high PHAS scores. Each year it has improved its unit turnover rate and occupancy remains at 98%.
The UMHA has successfully completed the transition to asset-based management. To improve site management, the UMHA board approved assignment of maintenance staff to specific sites. Staff has been reorganized to reflect the asset-based model. New software has been installed to enhance waiting list, work orders, and resident screening and eligibility processing. Project-based budgeting and accounting procedures have been implemented to ensure consistency with asset management regulations. The Authority’s existing developments have been re-designated to become a cluster of four (4) property groups for the purposes of project-based accounting and management. In an effort to continue our on-going commitment to improve asset management, the UMHA has recently added two Assistant Property Managers to each of our largest AMPs to oversee their day to day operations. In 2011, the UMHA discontinued use of its central warehouse for property management supplies and has developed storage facilities at each AMP. Materials inventory have been moved from UMHA’s central warehouse to individual warehouses at each site. Property reports, including budget-to-actual operating statements, are produced identifying key performance indicators. Periodic review of site-based financial performance is provided at both the staff and Board levels.
Resident Self-Sufficiency Programs
UMHA is nationally recognized for its exemplary Community Services Department and support services to its residents. The UMHA is successfully administering four Neighborhood Networks Center grants for our HOPE VI, Gillmore Village, Perretta Twin Towers, and Adrean Terrace/N.D. Peters Manor/Matt developments. It has successfully completed Family Self-Sufficiency, Homeownership Supportive Services, ROSS Elderly/Disabled programs, FY2008 ROSS Service Coordinator and Family Self-Sufficiency (Renewal) grants.
The UMHA continues to develop new programs and partnerships between the public and private sectors to improve the quality of services and programs for residents as well as to better meet our residents’ educational, employment, health, and cultural needs. During the past year, in conjunction with Mohawk Valley Community College, the UMHA developed a resident education center at our former central maintenance facility to provide training in construction skills and green occupations. We have also developed new community health education and a sustainable farming/ community gardening program targeting our refugee residents.
UMHA possesses a high level of expertise and competence with respect to forming strong and long-term partnerships with local providers to implement a range of programs for its residents. UMHA has created a Community Network Coalition and Program Advisory Committee consisting of representatives from approximately 25 supportive service providers in the City of Utica and Oneida County. This committee meets twice monthly to discuss programs, review cases of specific UMHA families, and provide a collegial environment in which the supportive service providers and case managers from the different organizations can meet.
Through the Community Services Department, a comprehensive range of services is provided directly by UMHA staff or participating agencies. The Community Resource Department provides space at UMHA’s properties for the participating agencies of the Community Network Coalition to deliver community and supportive services for residents. A comprehensive range of services are provided including tutoring and mentoring, English as a Second Language, GED, Adult Basic Education, drug prevention, child care, youth development, Boy and Cub Scouts, parenting education, senior services, and congregate meals. To ensure that these services meet the needs of the residents, the Community Resources Department conducts outreach, recruits residents for programs, and implements follow-up assistance and tracking services.
The Community Resource Department has worked collaboratively with the UMHA Asset Managers to assist residents to comply with their lease and continue to live in public housing. Asset managers and Tenant Relations staff provide the Community Resource Department with service referrals on a regular basis including eviction prevention services. Between October 1, 2011 and September 30, 2011, 104 residents have received eviction prevention services, 63 of which were referrals due to past due rent. Of the 63, 41 residents have been able to remain in their household and received services that allowed them to satisfy their back rent payments.
In 2011, the UMHA developed a tenant retention plan as well as structured eviction prevention plan focused on residents’ past due rent arrear, Agencies such as Mohawk Valley Community Action, Consumer Credit Counseling, and Cornell Cooperative Extension have partnered with UMHA to provide emergency rental assistance as well as budget counseling programs that help break the cycle of delinquent rent. The UMHA has also helped residents access AARA funds for eviction prevention.
In 2011, the UMHA retained the services of a registered nurse to assess the need for resident health programs, deliver health screenings, conduct health fairs, and provide medical-based case management services. This program will enable residents to gain access to primary health care and preventive services.
In 2011, the UMHA provided funding for an Education Facilitator position through its ROSS grants and AMP funding to provide education, job training, and self-sufficiency services for public housing residents. The Education Facilitator is a certified teacher who will provide direct instructional services, coordinate a volunteer tutoring program, and administer the Family Self-Sufficiency Program and other resident services.
In conjunction with Mohawk Valley Community College, the UMHA has developed an Education Center which offers local residents training in home renovation, construction skills, green housing development, and lead safe work practices training. Located in the UMHA former central maintenance facility which is adjacent to our senior housing projects, the Center begun offering training programs starting in July 2010. Courses have been offered in Lead Safety, Asbestos Abatement, Masonry, and Environmental Technician. The Education Center targets public housing as well as other low-income community residents. Training services are provided on an in-kind basis by MVCC which leases the site from the UMHA. Building rehabilitation activities were performed in order to ensure compliance with the appropriate higher education accrediting bodies.
In March 2012, Mohawk Valley Community College was awarded an Educational Opportunity Center grant from the United States Department of Education. Located at the Education Center site, the EOC will provide information and counseling to individuals who would like to attend college or other postsecondary education institutions. Services to be offered include tutoring, mentoring, career planning, preparatory seminars, financial and academic assistance, and GED referral.
- Career Planning
- Preparatory seminars
- Financial and Academic Assistance
- GED Referral
The EOC and the Education Center are important element of the UMHA community economic development plan to provide job training and educational opportunities to low-income Section 3 eligible residents of the City of Utica. These programs will help unemployed residents to transition from public assistance programs to economic self-sufficiency. In addition, it will train clients in “green economy” careers such as weatherization and deconstruction.
In 2010, the UMHA – was awarded a planning grant to the develop a year-round AmeriCorps program to provide education and training services to public housing residents. An AmeriCorps grant will allow the UMHA to continue to maintain resident service programs in the absence of HUD funding for these activities. Planning grant activities were successfully completed including a survey of public housing residents, focus groups targeted local agencies and residents, a needs assessment based upon census and other demographic data sources. In January 2012, the UMHA applied to the Corporation for National Service and the New York State Office of Children and Family Service for an AmeriCorps grant which would provide self-sufficiency, financial literacy, and housing referral residents to low-income City of Utica residents as well as public housing tenant. Homeless persons and veterans will be targeted through this program.
Safety And Crime Prevention
In 2011, the New York State Housing Trust Fund Corporation approved a Public Housing Modernization Drug Elimination Program FY 2010-2011 grant of $93,265 in connection with our Chancellor Apartments, a New York State Section 8 project voucher-based public housing development for seniors and disabled. Funds were used to install security improvements including but not limited to surveillance cameras, front doors, and exterior lighting.
In 2010, the UMHA was awarded a grant of $222,115 from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Safety and Security Funding Program to install surveillance camera systems and other security improvements in connection with its public housing developments. The grant is designed to enhance the ability of the UMHA security department to reduce criminal activity and discourage drug-related activity at its properties. Grant funds were used to install and purchase a digital network-based video surveillance system in connection with the Perretta Twin Towers, Marino-Ruggiero Apartments and Hamilton Street Apartments.
Using its general allocation of CFP funds, the UMHA installed new video surveillance cameras in most resident parking lots to deter vandalism and crime. The cameras have panoramic views and may be viewed locally on site as well as on the web. Information from the surveillance system is shared with the Utica Police Department to identify and prosecute offenders.
Housing Choice Voucher Program
The Housing Choice Voucher program (commonly referred to as the Section 8 program) provides rental assistance to eligible program participants in the City of Utica who rent from private landlords. The participants contribute approximately 30% of their adjusted monthly income towards rent and utilities and the difference is paid to the landlord by the UMHA. UMHA administers about 175 vouchers and has a waiting list of 109 households for the program. Our program has earned a high rating of 105 from the HUD Section 8 Management Assessment Program (SEMAP) which is the rating system used to evaluate the effectiveness of such programs.
West Utica Homeownership Project
Through a New York State Affordable Housing Corporation (AHC) grant, the UMHA has constructed seven single-family modular homes. These homes will be part of the West Utica/City of Utica Homeownership project. UMHA anticipates that construction will be completed by September 2012 and homes sold by December 2012.
The project involves the new construction of seven single-family homes on the site of the former Lincoln School in the West Utica neighborhood in the City of Utica (925 Downer Avenue and 1020 Mathews Avenue). Of the seven units to be developed, there will be one accessible 3-bedroom and six 4-bedroom units.
Section 811 Project
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded a Section 811 Program capital advance grant in the amount of $1,063,200 to construct six independent living units of subsidized rental housing for persons with disabilities in the City of Utica, New York. HUD also provided a rental assistance contract in the amount of $24,800 on an annual basis for the Project to help defray operating costs. The project will be targeted to very low income and low-income families who have an adult member who has a disability. It is expected that households will be headed by a disabled parent who will have one or more children. The Section 811 Project is part of the Utica Municipal Housing Authority’s (UMHA) HOPE VI initiative.
Home Preservation Program
Funded by the City of Utica HOME Program and the New York State Affordable Housing Corporation, the Home Preservation Fund Initiative is designed to assist homeowners with making home improvements necessary to address code violations, accessibility and mobility modifications, indoor environmental health issues, and energy conservation needs. The program serves owner-occupants of 1-4 unit housing. The property must be occupied by an income-eligible homeowner and must be the owner’s principal residence. Properties that are multiple family rentals must have verification of all tenant information and tenants must meet income guidelines for rental units to be assisted. In-kind match funding is also provided by the Weatherization Assistance Program. The program is successfully meeting its production goals.
Main Street Program
Utica Municipal Housing Authority, has been awarded a New York State Main Street Program grant for downtown revitalization in the amount of $500,000. The goal of the program will be to rehabilitate and preserve 37 historic commercial and residential units on three contiguous blocks bounded by the “Busy Corner” of Genesee/Bleecker Streets and Bleecker/John Streets in Downtown Utica. Of the 120 applications submitted for the Main Street Program, we were one of 39 which were approved for funding.
Applications for individual projects will be distributed to any building owner or business owner who may wish to apply for a matching grant to renovate and repair storefronts, upper floor residential units, accessibility and energy upgrades. A project review committee will then review and rank the various applications based upon a predetermined ranking criteria.
Priority will be afforded to the following kinds of projects:
1. Properties where immediate action will help alleviate or prevent dangers to the health and safety of the community; historic properties in danger of being lost, in part or in total, to disrepair or damage;
2. Properties where façade improvement would reduce blight or contribute to the economic recovery of the target area, or properties that include a residential component.
3. Design guidelines that apply to the downtown district would need to be followed for any project using grant monies. These guidelines will be distributed along with the project applications at the meeting.
The New York Main Street program provides financial resources and technical assistance to communities to strengthen the economic vitality of the State’s traditional Main Streets and neighborhoods. The NY Main Street grant program provides funds from the New York State Housing Trust Fund Corporation (HTFC) to business improvement districts and other not-for-profit organizations that are committed to revitalizing historic downtowns, mixed-use neighborhood commercial districts, and village centers.
UMHA would like to focus on the following activities during the 2012 program year:
Complete the development of existing initiatives. Complete the Home Preservation Program (rehabilitation of 14 owner-occupied units), the new construction of seven single family homes on the site of the former Lincoln School in West Utica, and the development of six new single family rental homes for the disabled in central city Utica.
Implement the Main Street Grant and other Downtown Utica revitalization efforts. We were recently awarded a grant of $500,000 for façade renovations and building rehabilitation in Downtown Utica. The goal of the Main Street Grant is to rehabilitate and preserve 14 historic commercial and residential buildings on three contiguous blocks bounded by the “Busy Corner” of Genesee/Bleecker streets and Bleecker/John streets in historic Downtown Utica.
Continue to develop the UMHA/MVCC Education Center. UMHA will continue the development of the MHA/MVCC Education Center which provides important construction skills job training activities to low-income City of Utica residents. The training center, which recently has been accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, offers courses in masonry, carpentry, lead remediation, green construction and other craft skills. Most importantly, the Center will promote the growth of high wage jobs in green occupations and clean energy as well as help to make the City of Utica a regional leader in sustainability. The Center will assist the City of Utica Department of Urban and Economic Development in meeting its HUD Section 3 and M/WBE goals.
Develop new homeownership housing opportunities to help first-time low-income homebuyers in the City of Utica to purchase their first homes. UMHA is planning to build ten new homes on an annual basis for sale to City residents. UMHA has successfully developed 40 units of homeownership housing and is in the process of developing 7 additional units. Our future development plans call for building new homes in the Cornhill neighborhood as well as expanding the homeownership program to East and West Utica.
Develop new Downtown loft housing designed as live and work space for low and moderate income artists. We might be looking to develop new projects during the next year to provide live and work space artist housing as well as mixed use resident developments to spur Downtown revitalization. Utica has a large number of vacant warehouses and commercial structures located in the Downtown area that could be converted into live/work space housing for artists and other creative professionals.
Create new mixed income rental housing opportunities. UMHA would like to develop new rental opportunities through its public housing development, tax credit, and bonding programs to meet the housing needs of university students, moderate income workers, and the aged.
Expand the Home Preservation Program. Rehabilitation of the existing housing stock is an important priority identified in the City of Utica Consolidated Plan. UMHA plans to make application to local, state, and federal funding sources to continue its successful home rehabilitation programs. Our Home Preservation Program, which provides financing for property improvements for owner-occupied residences in the Cornhill neighborhood, is successfully meeting its goals.
Develop new Elderly/Disabled Housing units. UMHA will seek to develop additional units of elderly and disabled housing. It is currently exploring the feasibility of constructing additional units at its Humphrey Gardens site as well as other available locations.