Board approves phase 2 demolition application for  Fair Oaks

The Danville Public Works Department started demolishing one of six Fair Oaks public housing buildings on East Fairchild Street in July 2019 to de-densify the complex and improve public safety. Housing authority officials recently approved a plan for more demolitions.

DANVILLE — The city’s 528 public housing units will be down to 379 units after Phase 2 of demolitions if U.S Housing and Urban Development officials approve the plan.

The Housing Authority of the City of Danville’s Board of Commissioners last week approved submitting the Phase 2 demolition application to HUD to demolish 92 more units. The vote was unanimous with five of seven commissioners present for the teleconference meeting. Commissioners Deanna Witzel and Tyson Parks were not present.

Six buildings and 57 units were demolished at Fair Oaks last year as a first step to make the housing complex off East Fairchild Street safer and more manageable.

HACD Executive Director Jaclyn Vinson said Phase 2 demolition at Fair Oaks would consist of an additional 13 buildings containing 92 units.

“At that point we feel the physical condition (of the buildings) and concentration of the population are both manageable …,” Vinson said.

Fair Oaks was reduced to 269 units from 326 with the Phase 1 demolitions. It will be reduced to 177 units with Phase 2 demolition. 

Vinson said they have the financial ability to take those additional buildings down, and running conservative financials, can afford the reduction of the size due to physical obsolescence of the buildings.

The housing authority would go to the private market for bids this time, instead of having the City of Danville workers do the demolitions as they did for Phase 1. Housing authority capital fund resources will pay for the work.

“The loss of financial subsidy, it will be significant for the agency,” Vinson said.

Vinson estimates it would mean about $750,000 less in federal government subsidy a year. She said that’s part of the financial consideration. There will be a “fine balance” however, due to expenditures also declining, she said.

A timeline for the demolition application process is fluid because HUD is closed right now because of the coronavirus COVID-19.

Vinson said she was still waiting for the last few letters from the environmental reviews to roll in for the application. The application would be submitted for review to the HUD Chicago field office.

Approval is not guaranteed from HUD. After a 90-day review period, the application also is sent to the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity within HUD for a 45-day review.

“Somewhere between 90 to 135 days, we should know,” Vinson said about when HUD reopens.

Housing authority property managers already have met with about 80 families who will have to be relocated. Vinson didn’t have an exact number of displaced residents. There would be a 120-day relocation period.

With HUD approval, Vinson expects the demolitions could occur by the end of this year or early next.

The housing authority also is pursuing demolition of Ramey Court’s 26 units in 13 buildings in Georgetown also due to physical obsolescence. This would leave 186 public housing units outside of Danville in Vermilion County. That application can’t proceed until the merger of the city and county housing authorities is fully completed.

There would be no further demolition projects, Vinson said.

She said the housing authority would then be the “right size with the rest of the community.”

They’d start reinvesting capital resources into their remaining buildings to bring them up to more modern amenities.

In other business, board members approved mowing contracts for Mer Che Manor, Carver Park and Allerton and Fairmount properties; and the write off of housing choice voucher debts owed of $35,756.

It also approved fiscal year 2021 public housing and housing choice voucher/Section 8 budget submissions, totaling over $4 million and about $260,000 respectively. The housing authority's new fiscal year budgets begin April 1.

Vinson said some areas are lower in the budgets, but some higher. They won’t see the real impacts yet from the Fair Oaks Phase 1 demolition project.

The board also learned the housing authority's fiscal year 2019 Public Housing Assessment Score from HUD is 85 out of 100, a standard performer. Vinson said this is the housing authority’s highest score in a decade, having improved from being considered a troubled agency in 2016.

“It’s a direct relation of the hard work of our staff and property managers …,” she said of the years of hard work.

She said they’re “very excited about” it and will continue to work to be a high performer.

Recommended for you