Ferndale Housing Gets $206K Grant for Self-Sufficiency Programs

Ferndale Housing Gets $206K Grant for Self-Sufficiency Programs

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Feb. 28, 2020)

Ferndale, MI – The Ferndale Housing Commission was awarded a $206,000 ROSS (Resident Opportunities and Self Sufficiency) Grant by the US Dept of Housing and Urban Development as part of $36 million awarded nationally to public housing agencies to hire or retain service coordinators who help connect all public housing residents with employment training, financial literacy services, educational opportunities, and health and wellness programs.

HUD Regional Director Joseph Galvin joined representatives of the FHC and the Ferndale community to present the giant check Friday morning at FHC’s Withington West.

FHC Director Heather Van Poucker said they applied with a focus on Health and Wellness and Financial Literacy.

“We knew based on our resident surveys that those issues were important to them, and the next step is to have resident meetings and see which ideas the residents like best.  It’s all about identifying their needs.”

VanPoucker said there will be resident meetings where they will be able to consider the possibilities allowed by the grant. Some examples in the Health and Wellness category could be cooking demonstrations, diabetes management, wellness classes, and aging in place services.  Financial literacy could include classes on budgeting, and education on home ownership.

The Ferndale Housing Commission has 166 rental units, including 43 houses scattered though the city, Autumn House (with 55 units) and Withington West (with 68 units). 85% of the residents are elderly or disabled.

The FHC is also currently working with HUD on a Rental Assistance Demonstration Program (RAD) that will enable FHC to work with nonprofit and private entities to accomplish necessary repairs and upgrades while also potentially increasing the number of mixed income housing units to help support the lower income units.  FHC has already been accepted into that program and is currently doing a thorough assessment of all properties and needs.

While that is a long process with months of planning still to go, the ROSS Grant gives the FHC funding they can use right away to begin impacting the lives of the residents.

Carole Morency is a resident who previously served as the resident representative on the FHC board. She spoke at Friday’s press conference about her joy in being part of the team that hired VanPoucker in 2016 to replace the former director Deborah Wilson who was arrested for entering residents’ apartments and stealing their prescription painkillers. Under Wilson’s administration the properties were neglected and residents’ rights were frequently violated.  Since that time, the FHC has been transformed with new board members, an in-depth HUD review, policy changes, and efforts to revive the aging properties.

“We are so lucky to have a director who really cares about us,” Morency said.

There are 520 Public Housing Authorities in the region and 3,000 nationwide.  It’s the first time Ferndale has been a recipient of such a grant.  “This shows that we have the confidence in your housing commission,” Galvin said.  He said that the money was essentially “seed money” to help residents help themselves.  “[HUD] Secretary Ben Carson is really big on self-sufficiency.  “It’s going to make a big dent in your community’s needs,” he said.

To learn more about the Ferndale Housing Commission visit their website.

About the author

Oakland County Times has written 13014 articles for Oakland County Times

Contact editor@oc115.com for any questions or story ideas! Please support this work by becoming an advertising sponsor or by chipping in through the PayPal button on the right side of the page.

Comments are closed.