LYNN — Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development (LHAND) has been awarded $1.15 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which will fund a four-year program aimed at improving the quality of life of Curwin Circle public housing residents.
LHAND was one of only seven housing authorities nationwide to receive Jobs Plus Initiative program funding from HUD.
LHAND will carry out an intensive four-year program of employment readiness, job training, job placement, financial incentives, and support services for the Curwin Circle residents.
The subsidized housing development, which was built in 1952 and includes 277 townhouse-style units, houses more than 700 residents and is one of the lowest-income areas, or includes some of the lowest wage-earners, in the city, according to Charles Gaeta, LHAND executive director.
“We’re really surprised and really pleased,” said Gaeta of the funding. “We’ve got strong partners in this and it can be a gamechanger for these people living in these public housing developments.”
Gaeta hopes the program serves as an incentive for the public housing tenants at Curwin Circle. Many of those tenants are working, but have low-paying jobs and the services could serve as an incentive to get living wage jobs, stabilize and leave for different housing.
Jobs Plus Initiative program activities will take place on-site at the former Family Investment Center located on the Terrace.
Consistent with the purposes of the program, LHAND has developed a locally-based job driven approach to increase earnings and advance employment outcomes through work readiness, employer linkages, job placement, educational advancement technology skills, legal assistance and financial literacy for Curwin Circle residents, according to LHAND’s application.
Over the four-year grant term, the program is projected to assist 278 residents in finding new employment and an additional 50 currently employed residents to achieve increased employment earnings, according to LHAND.
Curwin Circle is LHAND’s only family public housing development — public housing assistance programs assist low-income families and individuals. Turnover is low at Curwin Circle because of the market outside of public housing. Residents are staying longer at Curwin than they have in the past because they can’t afford to live elsewhere. There’s a waiting list of 477 applicants, with a wait up to five years, Gaeta said.
“There’s not much of a turnover, but hopefully we can enhance their situation, their work situation, and help them become a little more self-sufficient and able to meet their financial goals,” Gaeta said. “In Lynn, we have a lot of low-income folks in need of housing and we don’t even scratch the surface of what we have available in these times.”
Harry MacCabe, director of rental assistance and regional housing services for LHAND, said the grant program builds on past work from LHAND.
Three years ago, he said LHAND launched the Family Success Center to put all of its different service programs under one roof, such as providing job placement, financial stability and education services. Those services are aimed at addressing different aspects that lead to families becoming stabilized.
“This is great news, receiving this grant, and it just adds to everything that we’re doing,” MacCabe said. “But overall, I think that what I want to get across is the number of different services available here in the city to help families.”
For the Jobs Plus Initiative Program, LHAND is partnering with North Shore Workforce Investment Board, Northeast Legal Aid, North Shore Career Center, North Shore Community College, the Curwin Circle Resident Council, LHAND’s Family Success Center funded by United Way of Mass Bay Merrimack Valley, Jewish Vocational Services and Camp Fire North Shore.
Mayor Thomas M. McGee said the HUD funding recognizes the work that LHAND has been doing in the community, citing projects such as the revival of Herbert Street up in the Highlands, the current development project in West Lynn which will transform vacant GE parcels into housing, and Gateway North, a 71-unit mixed-income and mixed-use development on Washington Street.
“I think the ability to continue to get investment from HUD reflects on the great work going on at the Lynn Housing Authority and it’s always been a forward thinking organization with the many different roles they play in the community,” McGee said. “So, I think that continues to be something that HUD recognizes and continues to invest in.”