The Housing Authority of Owensboro is hoping to begin a $53 million renovation of the Rolling Heights apartment complexes this fall, with plans to remodel every apartment and change the neighborhood’s name.
Shauna Boom, executive director of the Housing Authority, said the area will be rechristened Churchill Park. Housing Authority officials are still working through the details with state and federal officials, but they are hopeful the work can begin in September, Boom said.
“It’s about time,” Boom said of the renovation. The apartment complexes “have only been there since the 1950s.”
There are 248 units in Rolling Heights. The Housing Authority is applying for a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program to finance the work. The program allows private investors to buy the tax credits, which fund the work. Those investors then receive a tax credit for 10 years after the work is complete.
Boom said the process of applying for the 4% tax credits is competitive, but that officials on all levels are working to get the credits for the project.
“I think everybody wants it to be successful,” Boom said. “It’s just working (through) all the steps to get it there.”
The plan is to essentially gut the complex and build new inside.
“The walls will be about the only thing left,” she said.
Twelve units will be made fully-accessible to meet the Department Housing and Urban Development’s 504 standards for people with disabilities in HUD-funded programs and activities.
The decision to rename the area as Churchill Park is “an opportunity to give (the neighborhood) a new identify.”
“We need a rebrand,” Boom said. “When people think of Rolling Heights, they think of the Housing Authority. The old term was ‘the projects,’ and we’ve been trying to get away from that forever.”
The tenants will not be moved out of the area. Boom said in January, the Housing Authority stopped renting units in some complexes, so buildings will be available to existing tenants to move into when work begins.
The Housing Authority will pay for the cost of moving tenants. As the work progresses, tenants will be moved from their current units into the renovated units, Boom said.
“Nobody is going to be relocated out,” she said. “They will just be moved within the complex.”
The complexes will be owned by Investing in Communities, a nonprofit organization created by the Housing Authority. The Housing Authority will still handle all maintenance and collecting rent.
“The Housing Authority is still the property manager,” Boom said.
The complex will become Section 8 housing. The complexes are already public housing, where renters pay what they can and a percentage of the balance is paid to the Housing Authority by HUD.
Converting the units to Section 8 means the Housing Authority will receive funds from the HUD every 60 to 80 days, as opposed to an annual payment, said Boom, which will ease the cash flow concerns that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had a period of time where people couldn’t afford to pay rent,” so no funds were coming in, Boom said.
James Mayse, 270-691-7303, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @JamesMayse