As the Lowell Housing Authority approaches another year, we reflect upon all that we’ve accomplished and look towards the future to make next year even better than the last. This past year, the agency strove to improve communication with residents, sought ways to expand affordable housing opportunities, and craft new innovative support services for our residents. A lot has happened in 2019, and we’re excited to share this year’s experiences!
Increasing the available affordable housing in the City of Lowell has always been a priority for the Housing Authority, but this year, the agency made considerable strides to ensure that in just a few short years, our dreams would become a reality. In 2018, the agency received federal approval to disposition scattered site properties with the goal to use the proceeds to develop mixed-use housing along the Merrimack Street corridor, with its nonprofit affiliate, the Revitalization Effort Towards New Urbanism. To date, the Lowell Housing Authority sold all but two of the scattered site properties and has purchased additional properties on Broadway Street and Decatur Streets for future development. This project is far from over, but we are confident in another year of progress towards additional affordable housing in the City.
While progress continues in developing new housing, we are ever mindful of other programs that help us further our mission. The LHA is grateful to be a recipient again this past year to administer $24,500 in Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) funding, and $241,227 in funding for 21 Mainstream Vouchers. Both programs assist those facing homelessness by offering rental assistance to remain in place or vouchers to provide applicants a safe, stable, place to call home. A special thank you to the City of Lowell, and our Division of Leased Housing program for implementing these critical services for the community.
We “Teched” the halls across the LHA this year, moving towards more up-to-date computer equipment, an email management system, and we’re in the process of updating our security cameras, and keyless entry systems. These are exciting and significant changes at the Authority that will improve efficiency, and security at our properties. Beyond technology advancements in safety and security, the agency has employed robocalls for more expedient communication with residents during snow removal, and during emergency situations. The Lowell Housing Authority is also putting the finishing touches on our online application and resident account portals, which will be officially rolled out early next year.
In 2019, we encouraged residents to contact us using our new contact form on our website, which was designed to provide residents with another alternative to reach our office for assistance. Contact us, they did. We were able to help 248 people this year, who reached out to us using our new form. This has proven to be an efficient and effective avenue to improve communication with our applicants, residents, and stakeholders. We look forward to continuing to find new ways to improve our customer service in the coming year.
Aside from making internal technology upgrades, the agency has brought technology directly to our residents, particularly seniors. The LHA received a grant called Tech Savvy Seniors, and developed a technology outreach program called Tech Talk, which is funded by the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, and led by City View Tower resident, Brian Sparrow. Residents at Belvidere Heights, City View Towers, and Francis Gatehouse Mill were able to learn technology basics, including navigating their smartphones, digital communication tools, safe online shopping, and the exciting possibilities of using smart devices in their daily lives.
The work that we achieve would not be possible without our dedicated team, and we’ve expanded this year. The agency hired Rita Brousseau, our new Chief Procurement Office, and Erica Bradford, Joshua Aizpurua, and Clinton Wilson as new Assistant Property Managers. Through heat, rain, and snow, our facilities management department keeps our properties looking their finest, and In 2019, we added Paul Leakus, Solid Yary, Cameron Descoteaux, and Tony Patenaude to our growing facilities management team. These new employees come to the Authority with diverse backgrounds and experience, and have brought with them new ideas, and most importantly a commitment to those we serve. We are excited for them to grow with the agency, and for the many contributions they will bring to the LHA in 2020.
While we look towards the future, we did not forget who we are this year. The LHA was pleased to unveil the Housing Authority’s historical exhibit. This project–a year in the making–culminated in a historical documentary which told the stories of our residents, who had lived at the Lowell Housing Authority throughout the decades. The exhibit also honored the leaders of the LHA, who laid the foundation for who we are today.
There is a lot to be grateful for in 2019, and we are blessed to have been presented with the prospects, and the fruitful community partnerships to continue to provide the highest quality housing and support services for our residents. Thank you for your continued support. On behalf of the Lowell Housing Authority, and the Board of Commissioners, we wish you a safe, and happy holiday season.
Gary K. Wallace< PREVIOUS BACK TO ALL NEWS NEXT >