Category Archives: Advisory Committee

Friendship Court Residents are Shaping the Future

PHA Friendship Court Resident Shaping the Future Youth Leadership Team Advisory Committee

Throughout 2016, residents of Friendship Court of all ages have been engaged in conversations about redevelopment. Two leadership groups have emerged from this effort, the Friendship Court Advisory Committee, a team of seven residents elected by their neighbors and six members of the at-large community, and the Youth Leadership Program.

The Advisory Committee was integral in the door-to-door effort to gather feedback on the redevelopment Master Plan from each and every Friendship Court resident. Upcoming efforts will focus on gaining quality of life improvements for the community, the plan for an early childhood education center, workforce development and phase one design including architect selection.

The Youth Leadership Program consists of eight resident teens who will meet regularly over two years’ time, developing skills and offering insights for the community’s redevelopment. Sessions will focus on land use planning, community engagement, and related job skills training. In the last few months the teens have gone on a field trip to Charlottesville City Hall and learned interview and research skills from University of Virginia graduate students.

Piedmont Housing Alliance is committed to deepening and expanding meaningful relationships and leadership opportunities within the Friendship Court community to better serve the residents that live there.

 

Meet Tamara Wright, Member of the Friendship Court Advisory Committee

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Tamara Wright is one of seven residents of Friendship Court nominated and elected by her fellow residents, in February 2016, to serve on the Friendship Court Advisory Committee. The committee, which has been meeting regularly with the project’s design team, is providing guidance to Piedmont Housing Alliance in two primary areas: physical revitalization and community life.

A busy mother of three, Tamara still finds ways to be involved in her community, including her service on the advisory committee. She also serves on the Urban Agricultural Collective of Charlottesville (UACC) board of directors and is a member of the Friendship Court Residents Association. UACC has been a key partner at Friendship Court for nine years.  It is so important to have dedicated community members like Tamara involved in different aspects of planning Friendship Court’s future, including building on the vision for community life that Todd Neimeier (“Farmer Todd”) and UACC have developed with local residents over many years.

In addition to raising her children, as a single mother, and her community commitments, Tamara also works part-time, and has been pursuing a degree from Piedmont Virginia Community College.

Meet Sarah McLean, Member of the Friendship Court Advisory Committee

Sarah McLean

Sarah McLean, a Director of the Adiuvans Relief Fund and the Adiuvans Foundation, a local philanthropy, is a member of the Friendship Court Advisory Committee. The committee will provide guidance to the Piedmont Housing Alliance in two primary areas: physical revitalization and community life.

In her work with Adiuvans, Sarah focuses on early intervention for young children and on a wide range of projects in the areas of health care, affordable housing, and food insecurity in the greater Charlottesville area. Through this work, Sarah has had the opportunity to learn about and support Piedmont Housing Alliance’s affordable housing efforts. Sarah is passionate about meeting the needs of our community’s most vulnerable residents, especially its families. She sees the redevelopment of Friendship Court as a unique opportunity to design affordable housing with an eye to accessibility, education, community health, and family support.

Sarah has a deep interest in public health, which she puts into practice as a volunteer nurse at the Greene County Free Clinic. She also serves on the board of The Arbor, a Charlottesville not-for-profit that provides a residential recovery program for survivors of human trafficking. She is a member of the Charlottesville/Albemarle Early Education Task Force, exploring the provision of accessible, high-quality pre-K for at-risk children in our community. Sarah received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from the University of Virginia. She lives in Free Union with her husband and four children.

Meet Zafar Khan, A Member of the Friendship Court Advisory Committee

Zafar Khan is one of seven residents of Friendship Court nominated and elected by his fellow residents, in February 2016, to serve on the Friendship Court Advisory Committee.

The committee, which has been meeting regularly with the project’s design team, is providing guidance to Piedmont Housing Alliance in two primary areas: physical revitalization and community life. “The people that . . . know Friendship Court are the people that live there,” Frank Grosch, Piedmont Housing’s CEO, has said. The redevelopment process is intended to “pair up the experts at Friendship Court, the people who live there, with city planners and a world-class team of designers to build a beautiful and vibrant community.”

Originally from Afghanistan, Zafar has a professional background in establishing peace, and organizing workshops and conferences. For eleven years, he worked with the United Nations. Zafar is currently a student at Piedmont Virginia Community College, and has also worked for the International Rescue Committee as an interpreter on a volunteer basis, since coming to Charlottesville. He hopes to bring his skills and experience working with a wide variety of people to the advisory committee.

 

Meet Yolonda Ross, Member of the Friendship Court Advisory Committee

Yolonda Ross is one of seven residents of Friendship Court nominated and elected by her fellow residents, in February 2016, to serve on the Friendship Court Advisory Committee. The committee, which has been meeting regularly with the project’s design team, is providing guidance to Piedmont Housing Alliance in two primary areas: physical revitalization and community life.

Yolonda has been a resident of Friendship Court for five years, and her daughter attends Clark Elementary school. She has a particular interest in representing the perspective of community residents who are working, and are interested in better local employment opportunities.

She is a graduate of Fluvanna County High School, and of National College (formerly, National Business College) where she received training as a medical office specialist.

Meet Crystal Johnson, Member of the Friendship Court Advisory Committee

Crystal Johnson is one of seven residents of Friendship Court nominated and elected by her fellow residents, in February 2016, to serve on the Friendship Court Advisory Committee. The committee, which has been meeting regularly with the project’s design team, is providing guidance to Piedmont Housing Alliance in two primary areas: physical revitalization and community life.

Crystal is a mother of six children. Her school-aged children attend Charlottesville City Schools, and her family has lived at Friendship Court for a total of ten years. A domestic violence survivor, Crystal says she is interested in being part of the positive changes she sees happening in her Friendship Court community, and has gotten to know other families who feel the same way. She wishes to be a part of a more unified neighborhood and community, and is interested to learn about what her neighbors think and care about through her work on the Advisory Committee.

Crystal is a member of First Baptist Church, where she has volunteered as a Sunday School and Vacation Bible School teaching assistant. She will be graduating from Piedmont Virginia Community College this spring, and plans to continue her studies at Mary Baldwin College.

Meet Kathy Galvin, Member of the Friendship Court Advisory Committee

Kathy Galvin

Kathy Galvin, a member of Charlottesville City Council, is serving on Friendship Court’s Advisory Committee, formed in February 2016. The committee is providing guidance to the Piedmont Housing Alliance in two primary areas: physical revitalization and community life. The active involvement of City officials in the planning process is an essential element of grant support, provided to Piedmont Housing by the City, for the project. 

Kathy owns her own urban design and architectural practice, which is designated a Virginia “Woman-Owned Small Business.” She is also an adjunct faculty member at the University of Virginia. Kathy has worked on such projects as the Eastern Planning Initiative, the Crozet Master Plan, the Places29 Master Plan and Transportation Study and the Uptown North Orange Form-Based Code.

Kathy notes that “as an architect, urban designer and planner with about 30 years of experience . . . she has a trained eye when it comes to matters of sustainable, equitable neighborhood design.” She also believes that “it’s important to have people at the table with institutional memory so that expressed community values aren’t forgotten.”

Kathy received a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Geography from Boston University, and a master’s in Architecture from the University of Virginia.

Meet Quanelius Tinsley, Member of the Friendship Court Advisory Committee

Quanelius TinsleyQuanelius Tinsley is one of seven residents of Friendship Court nominated and elected by her fellow residents, in February 2016, to serve on the Friendship Court Advisory Committee. The committee, which has been meeting regularly with the project’s design team, is providing guidance to Piedmont Housing Alliance in two primary areas: physical revitalization and community life. Quanelius is a senior at Charlottesville High School and has lived at Friendship Court for ten years. She plans to start her college studies in the Fall.

Myrtle Houchens, another member of the Advisory Committee, knows Quanelius from her summer work providing dinners for Friendship Court’s children and youth at the neighborhood’s community center. Quanelius has been helping with this effort for years and, “at this point, she could probably run the kids’ café herself,” Myrtle says, admiringly.

Quanelius says she loves her community and wants it to be better for the newcomers who will be moving to Friendship Court in the future. It’s this energy that a grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund to The University of Virginia, supporting Piedmont Housing’s redevelopment efforts, seeks to tap into. The grant, of $100,000 over two years, supports community engagement at Friendship Court, in particular the involvement of teens, like Quanelius, in the planning for the future of their community. The program will include lessons about sustainable, equitable land-use and urban planning.

Meet Kevin B.W. White, Member of the Friendship Court Advisory Committee

Kevin White

Kevin White, an assistant vice president at NHT-Enterprise, is a member of the Friendship Court Advisory Committee, which was formed in February 2016. The committee is providing guidance to the Piedmont Housing Alliance in two primary areas: physical revitalization and community life. On the committee, Kevin represents NHT-Enterprise, which will remain part of the ownership group when Friendship Court is redeveloped. NHT-Enterprise is excited to continue its partnership with Piedmont Housing as Friendship Court enters a new chapter of what affordable housing looks and feels like in Charlottesville.

NHT-Enterprise is a joint effort of the National Housing Trust, a not-for-profit affordable housing advocate based in Washington, D.C., and Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., a real estate investment services company focused on affordable housing. As a nonprofit affordable housing developer and owner, NHT-Enterprise’s mission is to preserve and improve affordable housing for low-income residents. Since 1999, NHT-Enterprise has preserved over 5,000 homes in ten states and the District of Columbia. In 2002, NHT-Enterprise partnered with Piedmont Housing to acquire Friendship Court (then called Garrett Square) and complete a significant renovation, thereby stabilizing the property and preserving its affordability.

Before joining NHT-Enterprise, Kevin was a real estate development director at the national office of Volunteers of America. He has worked in the affordable housing development field since 1995.  Kevin started his career in community development as an AmeriCorps*VISTA community organizer, assisting Habitat for Humanity homeowners in creating neighborhood-based homeowner’s associations. Kevin holds a master’s degree in Community Planning from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston.  He also serves on the board of St. Mary’s Housing Corporation, which owns five affordable housing properties in Northern Virginia serving low-income seniors.  Kevin and his family live in Washington, D.C.

Meet Myrtle Houchens, Member of the Friendship Court Advisory Committee

Myrtle Houchens, a former resident of Friendship Court, is a member of Friendship Court’s redevelopment advisory committee, which was formed in February 2016. The committee will provide guidance to the Piedmont Housing Alliance in two primary areas: physical revitalization and community life.

 You could say that Myrtle wrote the book on community life at Friendship Court, as the driving force behind establishing the neighborhood’s community center. “It wasn’t just housing,” she says of her 22 years living at Friendship Court (then called Garrett Square), “it was home.” Although she hasn’t lived there for almost a decade, and both of her own children have grown up and graduated from college, Myrtle faithfully returns to “her” Friendship Court community center for several weeks each summer to run a kids’ cafe, providing nightly dinners for the neighborhood’s children.

 As a single mother, Myrtle originally moved to the neighborhood from Louisa County in the 1970s to be closer to UVA Medical Center, because her son required regular visits to the hospital. For the past 29 years, Myrtle has worked for Charlottesville schools and parks and recreation, as an instructional assistant (first at Clark Elementary School and now at Venable), and in neighborhood community centers. For her unwavering commitment to others, Myrtle was named one of the Daily Progress’s “distinguished dozen” in 2009.  In the paper’s profile, it was noted that “[s]aying ‘no’ just doesn’t seem to be part of Myrtle Houchens’ vocabulary.” The advisory committee is so fortunate that this dynamic and inspiring community advocate has said “yes” to providing leadership in the neighborhood’s redevelopment efforts.