Announcements and Press Releases

 

Diana FishHOUSING AUTHORITY CFO GRADUATES FROM NATION’S PREMIER PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM


Diana Fish, the chief financial officer for the Wilson Housing Authority, recently graduated from the Executive Director Education Program offered through the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association and Rutgers University. The two-year program prepares senior housing authority officials from across the nation to become the head of a public housing agency by immersing them in topics that are critical for running a successful agency. Topics covered by the program include executive housing management, financial management, maintenance, legal issues, procurement and contract management, fulfilling HUD requirements and communications. Fish was chosen by her fellow graduates to give the keynote speech at their graduation, which was held in early January in San Diego during the annual Public Housing Authorities Directors Association’s Commissioners Conference. The conference was attended by more than 800 public housing officials and commissioners from around the country. During her speech, Fish said she admitted that she felt empathy for her boss, Kelly Vick, the president and CEO of the Wilson Housing Authority. “Now I have a better understanding of all of the different struggles that he has to face,” Fish said. “The classes helped me to understand the total agency and not just the financial part of it.” Fish also said that as chief financial officer, her first impulse is often to summarily reject funding requests. But, she said, the program made her more cognizant of the budget for the whole agency, making funding requests more sensible when seen in that light. Vick, who graduated from the same program two years ago, said the courses have strengthened Fish’s management, financial and administrative skills. “Diana is my right hand in running the housing authority and she is already putting into practice what she learned in the classroom,” he said. Fish has worked for the Wilson Housing Authority since 2012 and has been its CFO since 2013. The Wilson Housing Authority manages more than 700 public housing units, 26 market rate units, 23 elderly units and 661 Housing Choice vouchers. In addition to rental income, the agency budget is supported by nearly $8 million in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds. Posted Jan. 26, 2017

 

 

Wilson Resident Services Director Cathy Kent makes a point to Bobby Whitley while teaching the Wilson Housing Authority’s first digital learning class at Whitfield Homes Community Center. Once the students have attended all four classes, the laptop computers they are working on will become theirs to keep.

Wilson Resident Services Director Cathy Kent makes a point to Bobby Whitley while teaching the Wilson Housing Authority’s first digital learning class at Whitfield Homes Community Center. Once the students have attended all four classes, the laptop computers they are working on will become theirs to keep.

THE WILSON HOUSING AUTHORITY PARTNERS WITH DURHAM NON-PROFIT TO TEACH DIGITAL LITERACY CLASSES TO PUBLIC HOUSING RESIDENTS


WILSON, N.C. – Mattie Clay wants to be able to do the same things that her children and grandchildren do.
Gloria Whitley wants to go back to school. Her husband, Bobby Whitley, wants to do away with all of the paperwork that he has accumulated around their home and clutters it up. For all of them, the key to unlocking their dreams is to learn how to use the computer to do the same tasks that many people now consider part of their daily lives. The difference for them and for thousands of people like them in Wilson County is that computers aren’t part of their daily lives. The wealth of information and resources that are available at the simple click of mouse to anyone who has a computer, isn’t available to those who don’t have one and don’t come in daily contact with them. This split is known as the digital divide and to help residents of public housing in Wilson overcome it, the Wilson Housing Authority has partnered with the Kramden Institute of Durham to teach basic computer digital classes – 15 people at a time. The classes are taught in four two-hour sessions and starts with the basics, right down to how you properly turn a computer on and off. In addition to learning how to navigate your way around the computer and become familiar with it, other sessions teach residents how to use basic office programs, browse the internet, and use social media and share information. Anyone who attends all four sessions will receive a refurbished laptop computer, one year of technical support and a USB drive to store their information, all from Kramden. The computers are being provided by a grant that was awarded to Kramden Institute. Kramden also provided training late last year to two people from the Wilson Housing Authority to teach the classes. One of the teachers is Cathy Kent, the housing authority’s resident services director, and the other is a public housing resident,

Digital Learning instructor Beverly Williams, who is a resident of public housing, gives some hands-on help to Mattie Clay at the Wilson Housing Authority’s first digital learning class at Whitfield Homes Community Center. Clay, 86, said the chance to learn about computers and get the laptop when she was done with the classes pushed her out of the house to attended the digital training.

Digital Learning instructor Beverly Williams, who is a resident of public housing, gives some hands-on help to Mattie Clay at the Wilson Housing Authority’s first digital learning class at Whitfield Homes Community Center. Clay, 86, said the chance to learn about computers and get the laptop when she was done with the classes pushed her out of the house to attended the digital training.

Beverly Williams. Both of the teachers are receiving a stipend from Kramden for teaching the classes. Kent recruited Williams to be the second teacher. Kent knew Williams was used to dealing with technology and has a good way with people, and felt she felt that Williams could use those skills to teach these computer skills to her fellow residents. “I have grown up with all of this,” said Williams. “It is a beautiful opportunity for the people in housing and I am happy to be part of it.” The classes are being taught at the Whitfield Homes Community Center and there will be two four-week sessions. The first session is underway and is full and there is a waiting list for the second session. If both sessions go well, there is a possibility of partnering with Kramden to offer more classes at a later date. “There are many obstacles to overcome when creating programs to bridge the digital divide,” said Cari DelMariani, the director of programs for the Kramden Institute. “This partnership between Kramden and the Wilson Housing Authority is especially effective because it provides residents with not only devices but access to training and low cost internet. I believe this program will be a model we can easily replicate in many more NC communities.” Offering the digital literacy classes is a continuation of the push that the Wilson Housing Authority has made in the last couple of years to improve the access that its public housing residents have to high speed broadband services and to resources that will help them be able to take advantage of this access. In 2016, the housing authority partnered with the city of Wilson’s Greenlight service to provide low-cost high-speed broadband access to nearly all of the Wilson Housing Authority’s public housing units. Currently, the deal, which includes high-speed broadband for $10 a month and a free Wi-Fi modem, is available to 591 public housing units and 235 families are taking advantage of it. “Now that we have high-speed broadband available to most of our public housing units the next step is to help our residents become more digital literate so they can take advantage of all of the resources that are out there,” said Kelly Vick, president and CEO of the Wilson Housing Authority. “Partnering with the Kramden Institute and making this training and classes available is an important part of making sure that our public housing residents have the same opportunities that other people have.” Gloria Whitley said the class and the chance at the free computer was enough to convince her that it was time to complete her GED and go back to school. The 61-year-old said she has worked and volunteered in schools much of her life, but that she would like to get more education so she could possibly work for Wilson County Schools. As motivated as she is to complete the classes, she said her husband Bobby wanted to go before she did. “He wants to get all of our paperwork and finances on the computer and do away with a lot of our paperwork,” Gloria said. For Mattie Clay, 86, the chances to learn more about using computers is solely for her. “I want to be able to use email and go on the Internet,” Clay said. “I am glad that I am not too old to try something new.” Posted Jan. 25, 2018

 

WILSON HOUSING AUTHORITY GETS CLEAN BILL OF FINANCIAL HEALTH FROM OUTSIDE AUDIT


The Wilson Housing Authority has received a clean bill of financial health from an independent audit that studied the organization’s books for the 2016 fiscal year, which ended on Dec. 31, 2016. The audit was done by the accounting and consulting firm Aprio. It has been submitted to and accepted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is the primary source of funding for the Wilson Housing Authority.
The audit was presented to the Wilson Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners at its December meeting and it was unanimously approved. The Wilson Housing Authority annually has its books audited by an outside organization to make sure that it is following the best practices for handling its finances and monitoring the federal grants that it receives through HUD. “The outside audit is important because it demonstrates to the public that we are handing their money in an efficient and trustworthy way,” said Kelly Vick, the president and CEO of the Wilson Housing Authority. This is the second straight year that the auditor has not found any findings against the housing authority. Established in 1953, the Wilson Housing Authority’s mission is to provide safe, decent and affordable housing to the Wilson Community. It currently serves nearly 2,800 residents through both its conventional public housing programs and its partnership with private sector housing providers through the federal Housing Choice Voucher program. The housing authority has an annual budget of roughly $8 million dollars and employs 40 full-time workers, more than half of whom work in its maintenance and operations division. Posted Dec. 25, 2017

Immanuel Lofton, 23, puts an electric plate in place as part of getting a public housing unit ready to host a new family. The father of a young boy says he appreciates the second chance that the OIC of Wilson and the Wilson Housing Authority has given him and that the training he is getting will hopefully help him secure full-time employment when the program is over.

Immanuel Lofton, 23, puts an electric plate in place as part of getting a public housing unit ready to host a new family. The father of a young boy says he appreciates the second chance that the OIC of Wilson and the Wilson Housing Authority has given him and that the training he is getting will hopefully help him secure full-time employment when the program is over.

PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE WILSON HOUSING AUTHORITY AND THE OIC OF WILSON GIVES YOUNG ADULTS WITH CRIMINAL RECORDS A SECOND CHANCE AT LANDING EMPLOYMENT


All Joslynn Hinnant says she wants is a chance. A chance to prove herself. A chance to provide for her two children. A chance to live a normal life, have a job and not have to worry as much about how she will pay her bills. The same chance that everyone else gets. Hinnant, 21, has a criminal record, however, so getting that chance is not as easy for her. A lot of doors close in her face when she tells an employer or recruiter her story or fills out a job application. The same is true for Immanuel Lofton, a 23-year-old who also has a record and is also seeking a chance to earn his way up to full-time employment. “I just wanted a job, period,” says the father of a 4-year-old boy. “I just want to help him out.” For Hinnant and Lofton, that chance – most would call it a second chance – has come thanks to a partnership between the Wilson Housing Authority and the Opportunities Industrialization Center of Wilson, better known as the Wilson OIC. The Wilson OIC has

Joslynn Hinnant, 21, caulks a bathroom sink at a public housing unit on Fountain Drive in the E.B. Jordan Homes area. Hinnant is part of a partnership between the Wilson Housing Authority and the OIC of Wilson that matches young adults with criminal records with employers willing to give them a second chance.

Joslynn Hinnant, 21, caulks a bathroom sink at a public housing unit on Fountain Drive in the E.B. Jordan Homes area. Hinnant is part of a partnership between the Wilson Housing Authority and the OIC of Wilson that matches young adults with criminal records with employers willing to give them a second chance.

received a three-year, $700,000 grant to help young adults ages 18-24 who also have a criminal record get back into the workforce. The grant was awarded through a program known as SOAR and pays to help provide on-the-job training through employers who are willing to work with the people in the program. “We want them to learn a skill or trade and get the chance to get a job,” said Jesse Raudales, the director of operations for the Wilson OIC. Which is why Hinnant, Lofton and three other young adults in the program, now find themselves working side-by-side with Wilson Housing Authority maintenance crews to help repair recently vacated public housing units to make them ready for the next tenant. “The OIC pays them and we match them up with a mentor and give them training,” says Troy Davis, the Wilson Housing Authority’s director of development. “They are getting basic work experience such as dry wall repair, stripping and waxing floors, adjusting doors and repairing windows.” All of the people who the housing authority has accepted into the program have had to go through an employee check, drug screening and background check and it has a strict miss work and you are out of the program policy. To graduate from the program, the young adults have to complete 400 hours – 10 weeks – of work. At the end of the program there is a chance of getting on full-time with the employer and Davis said that is true for the Housing Authority’s maintenance staff as well. “We are always looking to find ways to help us turn our vacant units more quickly and get them back into the hands of a new family who needs the affordable housing,” Davis said. Hinnant said she is appreciative of the chance and likes what she is doing for the housing authority. “I like manly work,” she said. “My grandfather had his own construction business so I am comfortable redoing floors and painting.” Lofton said he doesn’t have any formal maintenance or construction training but he said he heard about the opportunity at the housing authority from the OIC. “The OIC helped me get my ID and now they have helped me get a job,” he said. Both Davis and Tim Little, the supervisors for the housing authority work crews, said none of the people in the program have much experience but they knew that going in. “Kelly (Housing Authority President and CEO Kelly Vick) said let’s contact OIC and see if we can partner with them to get some help with our basic maintenance and repairs,” said Davis. “Anything we can do to help these men and women get better trained and help keep our affordable housing units filled is a win for us.” For Hinnant, she says the feeling is more basic. “I feel like God has opened a door for me.” Posted Dec. 17, 2017

Tobacco-free signs are going up on all Wilson Housing Authority properties and buildings in advance of the housing authority going tobacco free on January 1, 2018. The policy change is being made to bring the housing authority into compliance with a HUD mandate that all housing authorities be smoke free by the end of July.

Tobacco-free signs are going up on all Wilson Housing Authority properties and buildings in advance of the housing authority going tobacco free on January 1, 2018. The policy change is being made to bring the housing authority into compliance with a HUD mandate that all housing authorities be smoke free by the end of July.

Tasman Towers resident Eddie Bynum said he is looking forward to the Wilson Housing Authority apartment complex going tobacco free on January 1, 2018. Bynum smoked for 55 years before quitting 12 years ago and the second-hand smoke bothers him a great deal because he has COPD.

Tasman Towers resident Eddie Bynum said he is looking forward to the Wilson Housing Authority apartment complex going tobacco free on January 1, 2018. Bynum smoked for 55 years before quitting 12 years ago and the second-hand smoke bothers him a great deal because he has COPD.

 

WILSON HOUSING AUTHORITY TO GO TOBACCO-FREE STARTING ON JAN. 1 TO COMPLY WITH FEDERAL MANDATE FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT


The New Year will bring a big change – and hopefully cleaner air – to the Wilson Housing Authority and its public housing complexes. Starting Jan. 1, all housing authority properties will be tobacco free. The new tobacco-free rules will bring the Wilson Housing Authority into compliance with a federal mandate from the Department of Housing and Urban Development that all public housing agencies be smoke free by July 31, 2018.  Housing authority staff have been working with its public housing residents and employees since the summer to prepare them for the change. Under the new rules, all tobacco use and vaping will be banned from all housing authority facilities and for 25 feet around the buildings. The smoke-free mandate by HUD was designed to create a healthier atmosphere for public housing residents and help housing authorities lower their maintenance costs. Many housing authorities have already converted to being tobacco free, including the Goldsboro Housing Authority, whose policy was cited as a model policy by the North Carolina Housing Authority Director’s Association. “Going smoke free is not only mandated by HUD but is the right thing to do for our residents and our employees,” said Kelly Vick, President and CEO of the Wilson Housing Authority. “We have heard from numerous residents who complain that they have to breathe in their neighbor’s cigarettes and they have no way to protect their health from unwanted smoke.” Currently, only a few Wilson Housing Units are designated as non-smoking. Vick said he decided to make the housing authority totally tobacco free because of the public health benefits and to eliminate any questions about favoring one type of smoking or tobacco use over another. “I just thought we should make it easy on everyone to understand,” Vick said. The tobacco-free policy was approved in September by the Wilson Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners, following a public hearing. Eddie Bynum, who has lived in Tasman Towers for 17 years, said he never minded the smoke for years but now it bothers him. Bynum, who quit smoking 12 years ago after smoking for 55 years, said he suffers from COPD and uses an inhaler. “I can’t hardly play cards with the other guys because of the smoke,” the 81-year-old said. “It will make it a nicer place to live.” The new rules don’t only apply to the residents of public housing and their guests but to the employees as well. All employees will have to abide by the tobacco-free restrictions at all Wilson Housing Authority buildings. Chris Williams, the maintenance manager for the Housing Authority, said the new policy was one reason he started a smoking cessation program this fall.Williams, who has been smoking for three decades, said he was at his doctor’s office and his doctor said he could help him to quit. “I decided if the Wilson Housing Authority was going smoke free I had better go smoke free as well,” Williams said. “It is the right thing to do and I don’t want to lose my job over a $5 pack of cigarettes.” Eliminating smoking and tobacco use won’t only clear the air around the housing authority’s properties but it will also help keep the facilities in better repair and cut down on the annual costs of maintaining the residences. Additionally, it will allow new tenants to move into their homes more quickly because the length of time it takes to clean up and repair a unit when a resident moves out will be shortened – in some case considerably. According to HUD, a study from the Centers for Disease Control estimates annual savings of $154 million per year in reduced maintenance costs and fire damage for housing authorities because of the switch to smoke free. Going tobacco free does not mean that residents and employees will be prohibited from using tobacco products or vaping, but they will have to abide by the new policy and not use these products within 25 feet of any housing authority facility. For anyone who violates the policy, they will have at least two chances to abide by the policy and only use a tobacco product outside of designated tobacco free areas before any penalty kicks in. As part of this conversion to tobacco-free facilities, the Wilson Housing Authority has teamed up with the Wilson County Health Department to offer smoking cessation resources to any resident or employee who wants to try and stop using a tobacco product. All of the housing authority’s nearly 1,400 public housing residents and employees were surveyed about joining a smoking cessation program offered through the Health Department. Thirty-two indicated they were interested. The housing authority and health department have held three meetings for people interested in learning more about smoking cessation and two more are scheduled for early December. The meetings are being led by Melissa Kanuck, who is a smoking cessation specialist with the health department. “The Wilson County Health Department is very happy to be a part of assisting the Wilson County Housing Authority with becoming tobacco free. Smoking and Tobacco use is one of the most preventable causes of disease” said Teresa Ellen, the health director for the Wilson County Health Department. “We are pleased to be working together to make Wilson a healthier place to live, work and play.” Ellen said that vaping can also be harmful. “According to the Centers for Disease Control e-cigarette aerosol is not harmless. It can contain harmful and potentially harmful substances including nicotine, heavy metals like lead, volatile organic compounds, and cancer causing agents. In addition there have been reports of children who ingest the flavored liquid and become poisoned.” Posted Dec. 6, 2017

Wilson Firefighter Micah Varnell wields a large circular saw to cut a hole in the roof of a Wilson Housing Authority building that is scheduled to be demolished while Engineer Roger Godwin offers support and stands ready to help if needed. The firefighters were training on the abandoned building thanks to an agreement between the Wilson Housing Authority and Wilson Fire/Rescue Services.

Wilson Firefighter Micah Varnell wields a large circular saw to cut a hole in the roof of a Wilson Housing Authority building that is scheduled to be demolished while Engineer Roger Godwin offers support and stands ready to help if needed. The firefighters were training on the abandoned building thanks to an agreement between the Wilson Housing Authority and Wilson Fire/Rescue Services.

Wilson Fire/Rescue Services doesn’t often find a still standing building where the owner won’t complain if firefighters rev up a chainsaw and cut a hole in their roof or break down the front door and leave it hanging from its hinges. But that is exactly the opportunity that the Wilson Housing Authority presented to the fire department in the form of 28 empty apartment units in its Whitfield Homes Public Housing area that are slated to be demolished by mid-October. Until the units are all down, Wilson Fire/Rescue Services is using the empty buildings to train its firefighters and firefighters from other departments on a whole range of problems that they might confront during a real fire.
And they don’t have to worry about cleaning up behind them. “There is great value to this training because the crews are able to train in a realistic setting,” said Deputy Fire Chief James Campbell, who heads up the department’s training division/special operations & safety. “The houses that they are training in can be found in multiple areas of the community and the training gives the crews a better idea of the construction and layout of the houses,” Campbell said. In addition to Wilson Fire/Rescue Services, the training opportunity has been offered to all Wilson County fire departments and the cadets enrolled at the Wilson Community College’s Fire/Rescue Academy. At the units, firefighters and other personnel were able to hone their skills in forcible entry, ventilation, search and rescue, firefighter down rapid intervention, salvage and overhaul, hose-line advancement, scene size-up, victim removal, ladder operations and building construction. Troy Davis, the development director for the Wilson Housing Authority who helped coordinate this opportunity with the fire department, said offering up the soon-to-be demolished units to help first responders train made a ton of sense. “Building and continuing our relationship with the firefighters and other first responders is important to the housing authority and it makes us feel good to help them polish their skills on buildings we are going to tear down,” Davis said. The units being demolished are on Banks Street, Walnut Street and Dew Street. All of the buildings were constructed in 1965 and had developed issues that made them structurally unsound and unfit for habitation. The Wilson Housing Authority plans to clear the property of the existing structures and eventually then build new units there to replace the demolished units and other units that were flooding in Hurricane Matthew and are not currently being lived in. Posted Sept. 28, 2017

Jorge Ruiz, a student in the Wilson Community College welding class taught by Keith Hobgood, sends sparks flying as he works on the railing for a disabled resident of the Wilson Housing Authority’s Forrest Road Homes. The project will improve the access to the resident and is a partnership between the community college and the housing authority.

Jorge Ruiz, a student in the Wilson Community College welding class taught by Keith Hobgood, sends sparks flying as he works on the railing for a disabled resident of the Wilson Housing Authority’s Forrest Road Homes. The project will improve the access to the resident and is a partnership between the community college and the housing authority.

The Wilson Housing Authority and the students of Keith Hobgood’s Wilson Community College welding class have teamed up to construct metal railings for a ramp for a disabled resident in the housing authority’s Forrest Road Homes area. The housing authority supplied the materials and went to Hobgood to see if it could get his student’s help in constructing the metal railings. “This was an opportunity to build a partnership with the community college and bring the community together to help someone in need,” said Troy Davis, development director for the Wilson Housing Authority. “This isn’t just a class project,” Davis said, “but it is something that they can ride by and see and know that they helped someone by building it.” The Housing Authority will paint the rails and then install them at the unit of the longtime public housing resident. Posted Sept. 25, 2017

Ben Huston, Life Safety Educator for Wilson Fire/Rescue Services, explains the new SmartBurner technology to Varita Court resident Billy Woodard. Woodard, who has lived in the building for about five years, will be receiving the new fire prevention burners later this month thanks to a partnership between the fire department and the Wilson Housing Authority.

Ben Huston, Life Safety Educator for Wilson Fire/Rescue Services, explains the new SmartBurner technology to Varita Court resident Billy Woodard. Woodard, who has lived in the building for about five years, will be receiving the new fire prevention burners later this month thanks to a partnership between the fire department and the Wilson Housing Authority.

Preventing cooking fires is set to take a smart step forward this September for the residents of the Wilson Housing Authority’s Varita Court apartments when Wilson Fire/Rescue Services installs a new technology in the historic building that fire officials say will stop stovetop cooking fires. Each apartment is scheduled to receive four SmartBurners for their stove, which contain technology that prevents the burners from heating to a temperature that would cause whatever is on the stove to combust and start a fire. “It is not possible for you to have a fire on these burners,” Ben Huston, Life Safety Educator for the fire department, told residents of Varita Court as he talked to them about the technology and why it will be safer for them to have them in their apartments rather than the regular burners on their stoves. The SmartBurners are the result of a grant from the company that builds them, Pioneering Technologies, which allowed the Wilson Fire/Rescue Services to acquire 100 of the units. Deputy Chief Ben Smith said Pioneering Technologies approached the city about getting the grant because of the total risk reduction programs that Wilson Fire/Rescue Services have in place across the city. “They came to us and said they wanted to invest in our community,” Smith said. “This is one of the best fire reduction units that we have seen. This particular technology stops the fire from starting.” The Wilson Housing Authority recently acquired Varita Court and is in the process of renovating the 1920s-era building on Goldsboro Street. “We have a terrific partnership with Wilson Fire/Rescue Services and installing these burners will make the apartments safer for the residents,” said Kelly Vick, President and CEO of the housing authority. Smith said cooking fires are one of the leading causes of fire in any residence and that over the last decade there have been four fatalities related to cooking fires in Wilson. The housing authority has already put SmartBurners in its units at C. Bruce Rose Plaza, and Huston said the residents there can already see the results. “It’s a win-win situation.” In addition to the SmartBurners, the fire department will also install a smoke detector with a 10-year lithium battery in it in each apartment in Varita Court. Wilson Fire/Rescue Services has enough SmartBurners to install them in 15 other Wilson Housing Authority units, including the townhouses on Hackney Street. Huston left residents with a word of warning, however, about the SmartBurners. “This will not save your food,” he told them, “but it will stop it from reaching the temperature where it will catch on fire.” Posted Sept. 15, 2017

Newsletter ImageThe Wilson Housing Authority has been honored for its efforts to keep its residents informed of events and issues effecting them through its Resident Focus newsletter. The newsletter was named the best newsletter for a large public housing authority in North Carolina and South Carolina by the Carolinas Council of Housing Redevelopment & Codes Officials. The announcement was made Tuesday, Aug. 22, at the organization’s annual conference. The four-page newsletter was the brainchild of the Wilson Housing Authority’s Resident Services Director Cathy Kent. Kent writes the articles, shoots the photos and designs the newsletter, which gets distributed to all of the housing authority’s public housing areas. In addition to highlighting activities going on in the public housing areas and letting residents know about upcoming events, the newsletter also includes tips for residents on such things as lowering their power bill. Kelly Vick, president and CEO of the housing authority, said the newsletter provides useful information to its public housing residents and that he was glad that the judges of the newsletter contest could see all of the hard work that Kent has put into it. Posted Aug. 23, 2017

The Housing Authority of the City of Wilson has been selected as one of 30 organizations nationally to participate in ConnectHome Nation, a program that seeks to find solutions to help bring low-cost, high-speed internet access to public housing residents across the country. The announcement was made Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, by EveryoneOn, a national nonprofit organization that will be leading the program in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Wilson Housing Authority is part of the inaugural group chosen to participate in ConnectHome Nation. The goal of ConnectHome Nation is to connect 350,000 people living in HUD-assisted housing to low-cost, high-speed internet access by 2020. Last year, the City of Wilson and the city’s Greenlight internet service partnered with the Wilson Housing Authority to provide low-cost, high-speed internet access to every resident of Wilson’s public housing. That project has been completed and the housing authority is looking to find other opportunities to help its residents become more digitally connected. “By making internet access affordable and available to our residents, we are providing them with unlimited opportunities for future success,” said Kelly Vick, president and CEO of the Wilson Housing Authority. “We are very excited about the ConnectHome Nation program and the many partnership opportunities that we will have to increase opportunities for our residents.” Posted Aug. 22, 2017

Going to school is certainly about learning to read, write and do math, but it is also about learning how to help each other and cooperate. These two girls already have a leg up on that, as Naeve Rogers, 6, (pink shirt standing) helps Kaliyah Girado, 4, get some ketchup on her hotdog during the back-to-school bash at E.B. Jordan Homes on Thursday, Aug. 17. Naeve is a 1st grader at Margaret Hearne while Kaliyah is at the Head Start Program in Brentwood.

Going to school is certainly about learning to read, write and do math, but it is also about learning how to help each other and cooperate. These two girls already have a leg up on that, as Naeve Rogers, 6, (pink shirt standing) helps Kaliyah Girado, 4, get some ketchup on her hotdog during the back-to-school bash at E.B. Jordan Homes on Thursday, Aug. 17. Naeve is a 1st grader at Margaret Hearne while Kaliyah is at the Head Start Program in Brentwood.

The Wilson Housing Authority and the Resident Council Committees at each of its three main housing areas teamed up to hand out backpacks stuffed with back to school supplies to more than 140 children. Each of the three main housing areas – Whitfield Homes, Forrest Road, and E.B. Jordan – held back-to-school bashes complete with food, games and music to celebrate the end of summer and get the students ready to return to class. The backpacks were available to all children living in a housing authority unit. The students range in age from just starting a Head Start program all the way to high school. Posted Aug. 22, 2017

A coalition of Wilson County public agencies and non-profit organizations, including the Wilson Housing Authority and the Wilson County Department of Social Services, has been recognized for its work finding housing for the homeless in Wilson County. The National Association of Counties presented the coalition with an Achievement Award for its Solutions for Homeless program which has found housing for nearly 200 homeless people. In addition to the housing authority and the Department of Social Services, other agencies that have been part of this effort are Hope Station, Wesley Shelter and Wilson Energy. The agencies have worked together through the Wilson Greene Regional Housing Committee to pool their collective resources to find housing for those in the greatest need, including victims of domestic violence, families with children and veterans. Thomas Eatmon, Chair of the Wilson Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners, represented the housing authority at the presentation of the award at the August meeting of the Wilson County Commissioners.

HUD official Faye Mobley joins Wilson Housing Authority President and CEO Kelly Vick and James Crouell (right), the housing authority’s manager for Varita Court, in a tour of the building including inspecting the condition of the roof which is going to be replaced.

HUD official Faye Mobley joins Wilson Housing Authority President and CEO Kelly Vick and James Crouell (right), the housing authority’s manager for Varita Court, in a tour of the building including inspecting the condition of the roof which is going to be replaced.

The Wilson Housing Authority has taken over the management of Varita Court apartments at 205 North Goldsboro Street and is in the process of finalizing the purchase of the three-story, Roaring 20’s era building. The housing authority is working in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to buy the building and help restore some of its former shine. The first major project for the housing authority is putting on a new roof and repointing all of the building’s exterior brick work to make it more waterproof. That work is being facilitated by a $500,000 loan from the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency. “Varita Court is an historic building in downtown Wilson that needed saving, both for the elderly residents who live there and for the community as a whole,” said Kelly Vick, President and CEO of the Wilson Housing Authority.  Faye Mobley of HUD’s Southeastern Region in Atlanta visited Wilson to tour the building and discuss with housing authority staff the challenges and opportunities presented with taking over the historic property. Mobley said saving historic structures like Varita Court is important to their communities and that HUD is committed to working with Wilson Housing Authority to make this project a success.

Aniyah Barnes of Whitfield Homes sends homemade dish soap and corn starch bubbles skyward through her just completed pipe cleaner bubble blower that she made at the Wilson Housing Authority's Arts Camp.

Aniyah Barnes of Whitfield Homes sends homemade dish soap and corn starch bubbles skyward through her just completed pipe cleaner bubble blower that she made at the Wilson Housing Authority’s Arts Camp.

Three weeks, lots of paint, beads and assorted craft items, and plenty of smiles. Those were the ingredients of a summer of fun at the Wilson Housing Authority’s Arts Camps at its three public housing areas. The annual camps were sponsored this year by the Arts Council of Wilson and the Wilson Rotary Club, which gave $1,000 to help spread the Arts Council’s programming for children and youth to kids who otherwise might not be able to take advantage of it. More than 35 children from E.B. Jordan, Forrest Road and Whitfield homes participated in the camps, which were taught by Anna Batts and Kim Valentine.

Camp Coordinator Molly Staley hands out prizes to Martasia Barnes, 10, (at right) and her sister Autumn Barnes, 5, for being the best campers of the day.

Camp Coordinator Molly Staley hands out prizes to Martasia Barnes, 10, (at right) and her sister Autumn Barnes, 5, for being the best campers of the day.

The Wilson Housing Authority and the Wilson Family YMCA recently teamed up  to offer an activity camp for children at the housing authority’s E.B. Jordan Homes. The camp is sponsored by the YMCA and offers activities for children in the housing authority’s summer feeding program, including a game day and a movie day. The camp is run by Molly Staley, an intern at the YMCA. Her family lives in Wilson and she is a rising senior at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. About 20 children per day are participating in the camp.

James Kent of E.B. Jordan Homes passes the basketball to teammate Ny’Saiah Allen while Blessed Peppers and Brandon Kent Davis of Whitfield Homes defend on the play.

James Kent of E.B. Jordan Homes passes the basketball to teammate Ny’Saiah Allen while Blessed Peppers and Brandon Kent Davis of Whitfield Homes defend on the play.

The Wilson Housing Authority recently hosted a 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament at The Spot Gymnasium in honor of Father’s Day. The teams were made up of residents and mentors from the organization’s three main public housing areas: E.B. Jordan Homes, Forrest Road Homes and Whitfield Homes. E.B. Jordan defeated Forrest Road in the final game to win the championship. In addition to the basketball tournament, nurses from the Wilson Community Health Center were on site to do basic health screenings. Thirty-two people were seen during the two-hour event. Sponsoring organizations for the Housing Authority’s annual tournament were the Wilson Community Health Center, The SPOT, the City of Wilson Police Department and The Trophy Connection.