Los Angeles Office of Public Housing
Quarterly Newsletter Issue 11: April-June 2011
Serving Southern California

Secretary Shaun Donovan meets with the Los Angeles Field Staff

On June 3, 2011, as part of the ongoing series, the Los Angeles Field Staff enjoyed Coffee with the Secretary. Meeting attendees discussed important issues, such as our partnerships with other agencies, green innovations, and why we believe in HUD. "The meeting was fantastic," said Sara Kurzenhauser, Public Housing Revitalization Specialist, "the Secretary really cares about his employees and the programs they administer." Kurzenhauser went on to comment on how much Secretary Donovan listened to staff empathetically and spoke inspirationally.

Los Angeles Field Office Presents Go Green Conference

Among HUD's top strategic goals is to promote Green Energy programs, in addition to partnering with other federal and local agencies. To that end, on May 17, 2011, the Los Angeles Field Office hosted and presented Go Green Conference, which outlined strategies for Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) regarding green energy programs.

The Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura presented on a successful green jobs program which trains public housing residents on the installation of green products such as energy efficient windows. The result is that tenants gain employable skills, while upgrading housing units and landscaping which ultimately reduces utility costs.

Andre Villasenor of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) presented on Indoor Air Quality and Energy Star. Bud McGehee, from the Area Housing Authority of the County of Ventura educated conference attendees on how Energy Performance Contracts (EPCs) are created, maintained, and the resulting fiscal savings to PHAs. Los Angeles Field Office staff Johnson Badalpour and Christopher Granger presented on weatherization funding in the State of California. Norma Nunez of the Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles (HACoLA) presented along with David Ford of Southern California Edison regarding Energy Education.

Finally, Rick Fochtman of the U.S. Green Building Council informed attendees regarding Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). LEED provides building owners and developers with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. LEED promotes sustainable building and development practices through a rating system that recognize projects that implement strategies for better environmental and health performance.

Stephen Pelz, Executive Director of the Housing Authority of the County of Kern, attended this event. "I am inspired by the ideas presented by the speakers and appreciated the opportunity to network with peers who are doing great things in helping their housing authorities go green," said Pelz, encapsulating the importance of the work being done throughout Southern California.

Santa Monica Housing Authority Family Self Sufficiency Program Clients Achieve Success Through Changing Lives

Six years ago, Deborah Jackson left a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program with nothing going for her except a referral to St. Joseph Center in Venice. The 50-year-old Jackson had no place to live, hadn't worked in 15 years and her son and daughter were staying with relatives. She saw her daughter every other week, and only when she could get a weekend pass from rehab and make it to the bus.

Recently, Jackson, now employed as a case manager at Ocean Park Community Center (OPCC) and getting an Associate's (AA) degree in women's studies at Santa Monica College, told her success story to a group of graduates of the service that she credits with having turned her life around - Santa Monica's Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) program.

"I want to say that it's all been easy, but it hasn't been," Jackson said in an interview. Jackson was one of 12 individuals graduating from the FSS program at a ceremony at the Annenberg Beach House in April.

FSS, a mandated but unfunded program of the federal Housing and Urban Development department, targets people in subsidized housing- to help them get a job and begin accruing savings in a tax-free escrow account, which the program partially matches. Participants receive access to their escrow account when they graduate.

The most recent group of graduates saved up over $150,000 between them through the program. The program currently serves 50 Santa Monica families and 77 low-income households that are served with FSS funding, according to Paul Rubenstein, development director at the St. Joseph Center.

The center has provided case management services for City Hall since 1997, and helped 160 households through FSS. "It's a unique program in that it looks at the individual and assesses what the person needs to break through to employment," said coordinator Jody Gilbert.

Once enrolled, a counselor will help his or her charge to narrow down what that person wants to do, and what barriers stand between them and success. When Jackson got involved with FSS, she was "hostile, bitter and angry." She'd just been fired from a job at the Union Rescue Mission, and she felt that she was out of options.

"My case manager didn't put up with my nonsense," Jackson said. "She made me feel worthwhile because she listened." Jackson became a certified alcohol and drug addiction counselor, and began work at OPCC, helping people who find themselves caught in a position that she recognizes all too well. She's now 21 units away from graduating with her AA degree, and plans on acquiring a Bachelor's in African American studies at Antioch College.

Her two children moved into the Santa Monica apartment in which she lives, and although their lives are busy - her son is attending culinary school and her daughter now touring colleges - they always manage to sit down every Sunday for a family breakfast, church and dinner.

"It's given us stability in our lives, and enabled me to do more since I was stable and didn't have to worry about food and where I was going to lay my head," Jackson said. "It gave me stability and made me want to become a productive member of society."

There are no typical stories for people who take part in this program, said Julie Lansing, Santa Monica's Housing Authority administrator. "People think that they're lazy, or they're criminals and don't want to work," Lansing said. "These are very motivated families that need some support. They need someone to help them understand how to access these services."

The economic downturn sent clients to FSS that many counselors wouldn't have expected - people with master's degrees and professionals who lost jobs and needed help.

The program provides budgeting and money management classes. It helps people overcome individual hurdles, which can range from lacking education to needing one nice set of clothes to go to a job interview.

For Jackson, it was the turning point that sent her on a better path. "I just really like to thank all the FSS staff, and the city of Santa Monica and St. Joseph Center for allowing me to have a chance to become a productive member of society, and giving someone like me a place to stay," Jackson said. "For believing in me and dealing with me. They worked with me and helped me overcome a lot of barriers that I had."

ARRA Success: The Housing Authority of the City of Oxnard puts funds to work

The Housing Authority of City of Oxnard recently expended its Capital Fund Recovery Grant, completing a litany of public housing physical improvements. The grant totaled $2,302,736.00 and was used to complete the following projects:

Project 1: Survey of Lateral Drains & Laundry Drains
Project 2: Electrical Upgrade
Project 3: Stoves and Refrigerators
Project 4: Sliding Glass Doors/ Windows
Project 5: Carports & Vinyl Fences
Project 6: Unit Doors
Project 7: Trash Compactor
Project 8: Bathrooms Rehab
Project 9: Elevators

On February 16, 2011, all the construction activities were 100% completed, marking a successful use of stimulus funds.

San Buenaventura Housing Authority Low Income Housing Goes Green

A 2009 Recovery Act Grant earmarked for energy efficient projects has transformed a substandard apartment complex. The housing authority in Ventura has been working with green construction firms to improve the Santa Clara Apartments on the 1200 block of East Santa Clara in Ventura.

Most of the apartments have been empty during construction. But a few low income residents stuck it out by moving around within the complex. It's almost done and they say it has been worth the wait.

One single mom says she had to do a lot of paperwork to prove she was eligible for low income housing. She now pays 30 percent of her income for her upgraded apartment.

There are 29 new and improved units.

San Buenaventura Housing Authority's Green Remodel Employs Residents

The Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura is scheduled to complete the green remodel of 28 units on Santa Clara Street in downtown Ventura by mid-July.

The project began as a grant application to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) that was specifically geared toward green renovations/improvements to existing public housing stock. The agency's Santa Clara Apartments, built in 1964, proved to be a perfect fit and received $1.79 million for a complete building rehab. The entire site is getting a green retrofit, inside and out.

The apartment complex, located at 1216 E. Santa Clara Street, is comprised of 20 two (2)-bedroom family units and 8 one (1)-bedroom family units. "Some of the units were pretty tired," says supervisor Robb Cobb of the nearly 50-year-old complex, who has overseen what he refers to as, "Basically recycling the whole building."

The comprehensive green renovation included the installation of more efficient windows, doors, plumbing, electrical wiring, lighting fixtures and appliances. All of the units received new flooring and low VOC paint.

More unique aspects of the remodel included the employment of seven agency residents, who live in public housing or reside in the city through the agency's Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) program. For example, the "Green Team," as they have come to be known, removed all of the kitchen and bathroom solid wood cabinet doors, then sanded and painted them with low VOC paint after receiving professional training by the Glidden Paint company. Many on the team also received a six-month hands-on training in green building basics. The program, which recently received an Award of Merit and an Award of Excellence nomination from the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) and a Collaborative Action Award from the Ventura County Workforce Investment Board, has provided these residents with a skill and a living wage within the emerging green industry.

Other aspects of the apartment renovation included the installation of solar panels above the carports, hydronic heating systems in each unit, recycled fiber insulation throughout the building, and green landscaping with integrated pest management.

"The complex received a complete facelift and modernization with the latest green building techniques," said Mike Weaver, Interim Chief Executive Officer of the Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura. "Employing our own residents to do much of the work is consistent with the Housing Authority's resident services programs that are aimed at helping those in public housing obtain the skills and job opportunities they need to get a new start and improve their lives."

The Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura has served the needs of low income residents since 1949 with 716 public housing units and 1311 Section 8 vouchers and prides itself in providing decent, safe and affordable housing to approximately 2000 low and moderate income families in the City of Ventura.

Run For the Fun(d) and Housing Authority Resident Scholarship

On May 19, 2011, the Community Development Foundation hosted the Run for the Fun(d), a race to raise funds for the Housing Authority Resident Scholarship (HARS) Fund. The Community Development Foundation was established in 1997, and has since played the role of a non-profit partner to the Community Development Commission and Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles (CDC/HACoLA). The mission of the Community Development Foundation is to inspire Public Housing and Section 8 residents by providing positive life-changing opportunities.

More than 100 CDC/HACoLA employees and public housing youth participated in the event by running, walking, biking, or volunteering. All participants received, and those unable to physically participate could buy, a Run for the Fun(d) t-shirt designed by Gilbert Ortiz, a 15-year old resident at HACoLA's Sundance Vista Public Housing Community, whose drawing was selected from over 40 youth drawing submissions.

Through the generous support and enthusiasm of CDC/HACoLA employees, the Run for the Fun(d) was able to generate over $6,000 (net) in scholarship funds. Through this and other fundraising efforts, the Community Development Foundation was able to grant 13 scholarships to Public Housing and Section 8 residents attending a university, community college or vocational school in Fall 2011. On June 22, 2011, the scholarship awards were presented at the Los Angeles County Housing Commission meeting to students attending the following schools in Fall 2011:

  • California State University, Dominguez Hills
  • California State University, Long Beach
  • East Los Angeles College
  • LA Harbor College
  • Paine College
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • University of California, Santa Barbara
  • United Education Institute

Through events like the Run for the Fun(d), the Community Development Foundation will continue to inspire Public Housing and Section 8 residents by providing positive life-changing opportunities.

Building on a Good Thing

In September 2010, HACSB's Board of Commissioners approved for staff to continue to build on the partnership with CI. Having just been awarded a three-year, $1.2 million Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant, HACSB was in a position to enhance services and resources at its Neighborhood Networks centers. BTOP grants were awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided the NTIA $4.7 billion to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure, enhance and expand public computer centers, encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service, and develop and maintain a nationwide public map of broadband service capability and availability.

"We were one of the first housing authorities to receive a BTOP grant in the first round of funding," said Marcia Waggoner, HACSB's Director for Community Development Initiatives. "The timing could not have been better for us. We started the centers with a ROSS [Resident Opportunities and Self-Sufficiency] Neighborhood Networks grant that was awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Those funding streams have gone away, and we were looking for a new funding opportunity."

With CI's support, HACSB offers a comprehensive curriculum of career development and work readiness in the form of workshops and one-on-one weekly mentoring sessions. The curriculum emphasizes the importance of having a long-term career plan, as well as provides short-term work readiness skills training.

"For the long-term career development component, CI assigns mentors to residents," said Waggoner. "The mentor discusses with the resident his or her career goals. The mentor may conduct a career interest or aptitude assessment to determine what types of professions would be well-suited for the resident. Using this information, the mentor then creates a customized training plan for the resident that will help him or her establish a long-term career. The training plan may take up to 12 weeks, depending on the resident's current skill level."

The short-term work readiness curriculum includes a variety of training opportunities aimed at helping residents meet their immediate needs to find work as they work toward their larger goals. Short-term work readiness sessions include resume building, online job search techniques, online applications, non-conventional job search methods, interview techniques, and discussions of the attributes of successful people. The sessions are offered in 30-minute increments via one-on-one private counseling or through one-hour group workshops.

Recent Notices

NOTICE: PIH-2011-36 (HA)
This notice serves to reinstate and update the content of PIH Notice 2009-16 and provide supplementary guidance on financial incentives to promote energy conservation.

Notice PIH 2011-34 (HA)
This notice extends for another year Notice PIH 2010-43, same subject, which is set to expire October 31, 2011. This notice does not supersede the previous guidance. Instead, it updates specific sections in the previous guidance with the new end date and informs public housing authorities (PHAs) administering DVP to continue to provide monthly housing assistance payment for current DVP families past June 30, 2011. Previous guidance remains in effect except where noted. The Department has projected that there is sufficient DVP funding remaining to continue providing monthly HAP on behalf of current DVP families through December 31, 2011.

Notice PIH 2011-33
This notice clarifies program policy related to establishing local preferences, the use of work preferences as a public housing waiting list management tool, and the inclusion of work activities in house rules and as a lease provision for certain public housing buildings. The purpose of this notice is to ensure that eligible households have full and equal access to the public housing program and that local preferences are implemented in a manner that is consistent with statutory and regulatory requirements.

Notice PIH 2011-32 (HA)
The purpose of this notice is to establish policies and procedures for issuing, tracking and monitoring Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) that were awarded under a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) to provide rental assistance specifically for non-elderly disabled (NED) families. These policies and procedures will address initial issuance, re-issuance and maintenance of these NED HCVs, tracking them in the Public and Indian Housing Information Center (PIC) and the Voucher Management System (VMS) and issues related to reasonable accommodation. The Family Unification Program (FUP) and HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) programs will be addressed in section 5.f. only as they relate to shortfalls in HCV funding.

The purpose of this notice is to remind public housing agencies (PHAs), including those in the Moving to Work (MTW) demonstration, of their obligation to comply with key non-discrimination and equal opportunity laws and implementing regulations, including those in 24 CFR � 5.105(a). Specific laws and regulations must be viewed in their entirety for full compliance, as the notice does not incorporate a complete discussion of all legal authorities.

Upcoming Deadlines

June 30 Fiscal Year End SEMAP Deadline

The SEMAP certification must be submitted electronically within the 60 days after your Fiscal Year End (FYE).

June 30 deadline is August 29.

Upcoming IPA Audit deadlines

Year End
60 Days) 
(9 Months)
June 30th  August 31st    March 31st 
September 30th  November 30th  June 30th 
December 31st  February 28th  September 30th 

Congratulations to the following Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) with zero (0) deficiencies on the Enterprise Income Verification (EIV) System's Identity Verification Report as of June 25, 2011. These are HUD-designated PHA stars for Quarter 3 of 2011:

  • West Hollywood
  • Santa Fe Springs

Content Archived: September 28, 2011