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2000 Best Practice Awards

Best of the Best Winners: Arizona

Best Practice: Rio Puerco Acres


Fort Defiance, Arizona. Walls lacking insulation, flat roofs that sagged with rain, poorly laid foundations of homes near almost impassible roads—all were characteristic of the former 86-unit Rio Puerco Acres in Arizona. The revived Rio Puerco Acres consist of 100 new, single-family homes on tribal lands held in trust for the Navajo Nation. These energy-efficient, three- and four-bedroom homes replace the structurally deteriorating 28-year-old multifamily development.

Successful demolition, new construction, resident relocation and occupancy of the new homes resulted from a partnership

Photo of recipients receiving Best of the Best award
Benjamin Price/Everett Ross/Chester Karl/Bill Aubrey/Jimmy Visu/Jorald Fritz receiving Best of the Best award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)

of three federal funding agencies, private lenders, the nonprofit Fort Defiance Housing Corporation and the Navajo Housing Authority. The new low-income housing will be converted to homeownership in 30 years once the mortgage is paid.

The Navajo Housing Authority and the Fort Defiance Housing Corporation formed a nonprofit organization to serve as owner of the HUD-subsidized original Rio Puerco Acres. The partnership allowed the housing authority to receive approximately $7.6 million in Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) grant funds. This funding was then leveraged for an additional $3.8 million in mortgage financing insured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and guaranteed loans from private institutions. A state bank provided a $2 million interim construction loan that will be repaid from a USDA guaranteed permanent mortgage. The Fort Defiance Housing Corporation created its own second-ary source of funding from the state bank in conjunction with the Federal Home Loan Bank to provide money for interim financing. USDA’s Rural Housing Service and the Federal Home Loan Bank provided additional interim and gap financing.

In an area where unemployment hovers between 60 and 70 percent, the project has provided 50 full-time construction jobs and positions for four families in long-term maintenance and management of the project.

The project will provide a $4 million payroll that will offset the economic deterioration of the impoverished community of Fort Defiance.

To overcome the lapse in resident’s rental subsidies that would occur with the razing of the original Rio Puerco Acres, the HUD Arizona office partnered with the City of Winslow Housing Authority to administer tenant-based Section 8 vouchers when the project-based Housing Assistance Payment Contract expired with the property’s demolition.

Nearly half of all homes on the Navaho Nation lack full kitchen plumbing, and as many as three generations live together in small spaces. Unfortunately, the need for quality housing does not always match resources, especially from the private sector. With government backing, lenders restructured loan documents to meet the constraints of financing development of tribal land. The Rio Puerco Acres project shows how teamwork, diligence and creative financing can stimulate public and private sector financing and development of housing and economic improvement on Native American lands.

Contact: Everett Ross, Phone: (520) 729-5157
Tracking Number: 245
Winning Category: Program (Housing - Multifamily)

Best Practice: United Community Health Center


Green Valley, Arizona. Just over 15 years ago, families living along a 60-mile stretch between Tucson in southern Arizona and the border town of Nogales lacked accessible health care. The United Community Health Center, a rural health consortium, now delivers primary care at three clinics in medically under-served areas of the southern part of the state.

The center is the sole care provider in two of its three locations and provides the only Saturday walk-in clinic in the area. A staff of 40 serves an active patient base of 5,500 at the three clinics and five additional school-based sites in a service area the size

Photo of Rebecca Flannagan (c) receiving award from Secretary Cuomo & Deputy Secretary Ramirez
Rebecca Flannagan (c) receiving Best of the Best award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)

of the State of Delaware. Providing health care to residents in rural areas lacking public transportation has proved challenging. The clinic uses eligibility and outreach workers to conduct home health visits, such as prenatal education and insurance registration for pregnant women. Even the physicians make home visits. Center staff helps eligible patients use Medicaid to obtain transportation to the clinic. The Center also works with nonprofit van programs for residents living in areas served by these programs.

To coordinate staff activities at the administrative office, three clinics located between 20 and 30 miles from each other, and school-based sites, the Center is in the process of networking all facilities. Staff traveling to facilities stop at the centrally located administrative office to pick up supplies and mail.

The consortium relies on partnerships to support its activities. The Bureau of Primary Health Care provides primary care. The Arizona Department of Health Services offers immunizations and services for the uninsured. The United Way Health Department and other social service organizations provide prenatal education and health education.

Partners also help finance clinic construction and operation. To construct the Three Points Clinic in 1996, the center leveraged $66,000 in CDBG funds to generate $784,000 from the Bureau of Primary Health Care, $860,000 from the United Way and $74,000 from the Arizona Department of Health Services. A combination of State Tobacco Tax funds, loans, reserves and capital campaign funds will support a new 6,000-square-foot facility planned to open in 2001. The consortium has a successful six-year tradition of annual bulk mail solicitations.

Initial needs assessments of residents and community organizations coupled with steady outreach and public education helped the center increase both the volume and comprehensiveness of services since its inception in 1984. A 12-member community board of directors ensures that the clinics continue to meet residents’ needs.

The Center stays connected to community needs by playing leadership roles on collaborative councils at the two major school districts. All active community providers and agencies serving families and youth are represented on these councils. In addition, center staff members deliver services and hold educational sessions at schools, churches and neighborhoods.

Contact: Laurie Jurs, Phone: (520) 625-4401
Tracking Number: 311
Winning Category: Geographic

Best Practice: South Tenth Avenue Historic Preservation Project

Creating Affordable Housing from Historic Sites

Tucson, Arizona. When the South Tenth Avenue Historic Project tackled the need for affordable housing in the Tucson area, not only did the project provide homeownership to the area’s low-income residents; it also created living links to the area’s historic past. The Project provided 10 affordable homes for low-income residents in the Barrio Historico neighborhood, a historic area silenced by neglect but ripe with tradition and history. Using funds from HUD’s HOME program, the Primavera Foundation and homebuyer assistance funds from the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, the project provided 10 affordable housing

Photo of Dr. Don Chatfield receiving award from Secretary Cuomo and Deputy Secretary Ramirez
Dr. Don Chatfield (c) receiving Best of the Best award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)

units for low-income residents.

The new homeowners, comprised of Hispanic and Anglo residents, reflected a diverse range of nuclear and extended families, and included both young families and senior adults with grandchildren. Not surprisingly, two of the new homeowners were actual descendents of the original homeowners—living links to the neighborhood’s past.

While homeownership rates in the Barrio Historico area are 51 percent, well below the national average of 67 percent, the biggest challenge for families is to save sufficient funds for down payments and closing costs.

The South Tenth Avenue Historic Project complies with historic regulations, creating a respect for the area’s past with thoughtful historic rehabilitation. The homes represent both pueblo and sonoran design, and include a number of elements intended to blend within the local historic neighborhoods. Project staff worked with the City of Tucson’s Historic Commission on review and construction approval.

The homes, in a neighborhood where a HOPE VI development is located, include seven renovated and three new-construction units. Five of the historical adobe structures existed on the site but had been abandoned

or vandalized. The partnership between the City of Tucson and the Primavera Foundation leveraged the HOME funds.

The housing carries on the neighborhood’s traditions with community-oriented design that includes both front and back porches. The existing homes were essentially rebuilt, replicating the original floor plans with wooden doors and double hung wooden windows, yet modernized with an additional bathroom.

Primavera Builders work crews, comprised of homeless residents, the working poor, and at risk high school students, handled construction while getting on-the-job training. Many of the job trainees who worked on the project moved on to full-time employment in the construction industry, and can earn living wages. Residents in this historic community have ample access to public transportation, and educational and job training facilities.

Many of the nation’s historic urban areas are ripe with history and people willing to carry on the traditions of their community. The South Tenth Avenue Historic Preservation Project provided a needy community with living links to the past, homeownership and valuable job training, while restoring extremely dilapidated historical structures into beautifully finished homes.

Contact: Donald L. Chatfield, Phone: (520) 882-5383
Tracking Number: 1157
Winning Category: Program (Community Planning and Development)

Best Practice: Wilson School Coalition

Wilson School Coalition Improves Student Achievement

GPhoenix, Arizona. The Wilson School Coalition was formed in response to deteriorating student school achievement in a Phoenix, Arizona neighborhood. Created to provide needed services for families and children attending the local schools, the 65-member public and private partnership improved student achievement and revitalized the community by matching community needs with available resources.

The Coalition began as a mentoring program to assist students in the neighborhood but soon expanded. The Coalition developed a comprehensive mission statement aimed at treating the entire needs of the community’s

Photo of Robin Hanna receiving award from Secretary Cuomo & Deputy Secretary Ramirez
Robin Hanna (c) receiving Best of the Best award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)

children. They identified six areas of community concern: increasing youth activities, developing relationships with local media, improving safety in the neighborhood, improving housing conditions, promoting family wellness, and increasing educational outreach.

The Wilson School Coalition would not be possible without the various partnerships formed to address the community’s needs for its children. Local neighborhood associations, area banks, local law enforcement officials, and various other community businesses came together with area residents to improve student achievement and revitalize the community. Early results include an increase in student test scores and infusion of funding from outside the community of more than $13 million for rehabilitation of 300 apartments and construction of four single-family homes.

The Coalition members provide a multitude of resources for the neighborhood children. What makes this program unique is its ability to address a wide range of needs. The partnerships implemented programs to assist the children with school and family needs. The partnership provided after school programs, field trips, reading programs, student job internships, private high school tuition and ongoing tutoring, career fairs, training and job placement for parents of Wilson students, primary medical and dental care, new housing construction and renovation, and neighborhood clean up and crime prevention.

Communities can reproduce the Wilson School Coalition by focusing on the essential components of a neighborhood’s needs and dividing those tasks into workable projects for each group. Assistance in the form of community and business volunteer time is vital to the success of this program. Multiple partnerships like these are the fundamental principles to improving student success on all levels.

Contact: Robin Hanna, Phone: (480) 609-8819
Tracking Number: 1872
Winning Category: Geographic

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Content Archived: April 20, 2011

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