By CHRIS MORRIS
NEW ALBANY — It started with removing Dumpsters along Bono Road. That was in 2004.
Eight years later, the New Albany Housing Authority continues to provide residents with opportunities through housing ownership programs and computer labs. And Wednesday afternoon, the Housing Authority took another step into the future by unveiling 24 new units at the Parkview-Broadmeade site which are handicap-accessible.
“We are about providing residents with a hand up, not a hand out,” said Theresa Whitlow, a Housing Authority board of commissioner. “Nine or 10 years ago when I became a commissioner, I had a vision that we could change the perception of the community about public housing, and we have done a small part of that today.”
The Housing Authority hosted a ribbon-cutting event at 1802 and 1804 Bono Road on Wednesday which included an open house to show off the new units to the community. All of the 24 handicap-accessible apartments, located at the Parkview-Broadmeade property site, will be completed in the next few weeks and will soon be occupied. Not only are they the first of their kind in the complex, they are also energy efficient and come in one, two, three and four bedroom options. Part of the lease also states that each apartment is a smoke-free unit, and each will be monitored closely.
The Broadmeade property was constructed in 1951, but the units unveiled Wednesday are new. The only items kept at each site are the concrete slabs where they were constructed.
“We are very proud of the renovations,” said Bob Lane, executive director of the New Albany Housing Authority. “It’s wonderful for us. This is our largest property with 442 units, and we did not have any handicap-accessible [ones]. It’s not only the right thing to do, but also the legal thing to do as well.”
The construction of the 24 apartments, which began in September 2011, cost about $2.38 million — which is about $99,000 per unit — and was paid for through an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant. Federal dollars also paid for the recent renovation of the Crystal Court property.
“We have been very fortunate, the Housing Authority team, to work together and seize the opportunity [of the] Housing Authority property,” Lane said. “We hope to do more development as time goes on.”
Sherman Carter Barnhart of Lexington, Ky., provided the architectural and engineering plans for the new construction.
Whitlow said there are many programs that have been started in recent years to help residents get out of public housing and improve their education.
“I am very proud of that,” she said.