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Working Hard To Build Community & Personal Opportunities
Tara Johnson (see photo) says that when she moved into Stella Wright Homes public housing in Newark, NJ in 1995, she was pretty disappointed with the housing situation she initially experienced. Since then, however, she can say that she's truly glad she has been a part of both the former development and its revitalized future. Having been part of her community's transformation through a HUD HOPE VI revitalization plan, she truly has benefited "because of the services and benefits received."
Tara may be the first to admit that she has taken advantage of quite possibly every service offered on site, especially job and training opportunities. She worked as an asbestos worker on the former Stella Wright site prior to its demolition and went on to work as the only female on the site during the debris removal. Now Tara is busy at work as a laborer on the new site, now called West Kinney Gardens. She's quite proud to be part of the team building the rental and homeownership units at West Kinney Gardens. "Seeing how it is coming together so nicely, it's wonderful to be right there to witness every thing step by step," Tara says.
"It was brutal on the really cold days," she adds, "but we worked through rain and light snow and sometimes on Saturdays." She hopes that she and her three sons, ages 8, 9 and 13, will be among the new rental tenants at West Kinney Gardens when it opens.
Tara says she seeks out every opportunity that she reads about in the development and housing authority newsletters. "I still go to job fairs to see what the new opportunities are," she says. And she's signed up to work with her Family Self Sufficiency program (FSS) case manager to develop long-term goals for her sons and herself. In short, Tara works tirelessly to provide a solid future for her and her family, as well as to improve her community.
"People used to see me working at Stella and ask 'How did you get that job?' I would tell them, 'you just have to apply yourself.'"
The Stella Wright Homes HOPE VI Program is a $35 million-dollar HUD Grant awarded in 1999 to the Newark Housing Authority that is being leveraged by $200 million for the purpose of developing nearly 600 mixed-income units on three sites in Newark's Central Ward. For more information about the project, contact HOPE VI Program Manager Karen Torian at 973-273-6620 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Content Archived: March 07, 2011