- Associated Press - Sunday, July 3, 2016

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) - The Evansville Housing Authority has entered into a deal with a private company to revamp five of the city’s low-income apartment buildings over the next 18 months.

More than 500 people will be affected by the $18.2 million in renovations to Kennedy Tower, Buckner Tower, White Oak Manor, Schnute Tower and Caldwell Homes, all of which are starting to show their ages, the Evansville Courier & Press (http://bit.ly/296xydh) reported.

After a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning at White Oak Manor, some residents expressed wariness about the project but also indicated that they were welcoming and hopeful for positive change.

“It might not be steak, but, you know, hamburger is far better than just a slice of bread,” said resident Sonny Baker, president of the White Oak Manor residents council.

Operations and maintenance of the buildings will be turned over to Indianapolis-based Flaherty & Collins Properties as part of the company’s agreement with the Evansville Housing Authority.

An Obama administration program, which allows housing units to work with private companies to leverage tax credits for repairs, made the partnership possible amid a decrease in federal funding for low-income housing repairs.

“By stemming the tide of losing units, RAD (Rental Assistance Demonstration) will help insure more low-income residents are able to afford quality affordable homes,” said John Hall, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s field office director for Indiana.

Evansville Housing Authority officials believe the partnership with Flaherty & Collins Properties is the best move to preserve the city’s low-income apartments.

David Hatfield, president of the housing authority’s board, said the board had to find a way to repair the apartment buildings and members did some “severe soul searching” before deciding to turn them over to a private company.

“We believe this is our best judgment to maintain public housing in Evansville. We are convinced that all of our residents, when it’s finished, (will agree) that this was the best decision,” Hatfield said.

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Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, http://www.courierpress.com

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