The Choice to change Housing Authority of the City of Tulsa 2018 Annual report

Just as the choices we make as individuals shape our lives, so do the choices we make as an organization. The Housing Authority of the City of Tulsa (THA) has made the choice to change – to change the trajectory of our agency, the lives of our residents and our city.

One of the most impactful changes our agency experienced in 2018 was the award of a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant. While Tulsa had applied for the grant previously, it took strategic change to secure the grant award, including an unprecedented partnership with our local organizations to ensure that the transformation of the Eugene Fields neighborhood will be effective and sustainable.

We’re proud that so many THA residents and Section 8 participants chose the path to self-sufficiency, graduating from the Family Self-Sufficiency Program with an escrow check to help them reach their goals.

Choosing to create a positive environment wherein our residents can engage with local law enforcement resulted in a unique partnership with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office that is not only decreasing incidents in our communities but increasing trust among residents and law enforcement.

In 2019 and beyond we will continue to make choices centered on our residents and how we can best serve and support them. We will continue to choose to create a working environment for our team that is collaborative and fulfilling. We will continue to choose transparency to increase your trust in our organization.

I hope you enjoy looking back at all that our agency accomplished in 2018 and that you’ll come alongside us, choosing to continue the positive changes we’ve made and build upon them to create a better Tulsa for us all.

Aaron Darden, THA President/CEO

The Choice to Change: Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant Award

In July 2018 the Housing Authority of the City of Tulsa, in conjunction with the City of Tulsa, was one of only five cities in the United States awarded a Choice Neighborhoods Implementation (CNI) Grant from the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD).

The application process to secure the $30 million grant was a true testament to Tulsa’s collaborative spirit, bringing together more than 40 community partners committed to the transformation of the Eugene Field neighborhood. Grand funds are supplemented with The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation’s $12 million gift and the George Kaiser Family Foundation’s $27 million first mortgage.

The six-year revitalization process will result in the River West community that runs from the Arkansas River to the Mother Road (Route 66). Housing will include mixed-income, mixed-use options that contribute to HUD’s goal of decentralizing poverty and creating economic stability for previously underserved areas.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant Finalist Site Visit

Choosing a New Future: Envision Comanche

The community-led planning process kicked off the Envision Comanche project in 2018. Envision Comanche will result in a mixed-use, mixed-income community that will revitalize the 36th St. North corridor, creating a thriving community not only for THA residents but for those in the surrounding area as well.

Community engagement assistants – current residents of Comanche Park – were brought onto the THA team to engage their neighbors in the process, surveying residents to determine their dreams for the development and to assess their needs for critical support services throughout the project and after.

Those living and working in the area are also engaged in the planning process to ensure that the end result is one that creates a better future for all who live, work and play in the 36th St. North corridor.

Envision Comanche Harvest Fest Resident Kickoff Event

Making the Choice to Achieve: Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program

Our nonprofit partner, Housing Partners of Tulsa (HPT), has helped both our residents and the community through the supportive services and education opportunities they offer in a compassionate and caring environment.

In 2018, HPT celebrated the graduation of 14 participants of the Family Self-Sufficiency program, which helps its enrollees achieve their goals while also earning money via an escrow account. More than $166,000 in escrow payments was distributed to graduates in 2018 to help graduates achieve their dreams, be it homeownership, starting a business or earning a degree.

Choosing to Support Our Heroes: Veterans Assistance Supportive Housing (VASH) Program

We were awarded 10 additional Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) Vouchers in 2018, bringing the total to 70. We are proud to be a part of the continuum of care for our local veterans; in 2018 veteran homelessness dropped 10.3 percent in Oklahoma over the prior year, a significant reduction that should be celebrated while highlighting the existing and ongoing need.

The Choice for Positive Change: Tulsa County Sherriff’s Office Community Enhancement Unit

To increase positive engagement between our communities and local law enforcement we partnered with the Tulsa County Sherriff’s Office to form the Community Enhancement Unit, a unit dedicated to THA properties.

Officers in this unit visit THA sites to interact with residents and engage in community policing activities while maintaining the safety and security of our sites. The response has been incredibly positive and we are very grateful for this unique partnership.

Choosing to Make Finance Fun: Kid Cash Program Teaches Life-Long Skills

Kiddos at Sandy Park Apartments learned financial literacy and math skills through the innovative Kid Cash program, the brainchild of social service coordinator Jennifer Durick. Kids earn Kid Cash that can be redeemed for prizes for displaying positive behavior, helping their friends and performing small tasks.

The success of Kid Cash led to the creation of the Kid Economy program wherein kiddos can apply and interview for jobs at the Sandy Park community center including Kid Cash cashier and tutor.

Choosing Partnership: THA Teams up with Discovery Lab to Bring Nano Exhibit to Residents

In 2018 the Discovery Lab partnered with THA to bring their traveling Nano Exhibit directly to residents. Kids and parents alike love engaging with the exhibit.

Learn more about the partnership here.

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