Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Phoenix homes, part of segregated past, demolished

Dump trucks, backhoes and other hefty construction machinery are removing a vestige of Phoenix's segregated past.

The machines have been bumping their way through the demolition of 138 units in the Frank Luke Addition homes, which were built nearly 70 years ago near 16th and Villa streets, north of St. Luke's Medical Center and a mile east of downtown.

In 1941, the Phoenix Housing Authority decided the project would be exclusively open to White residents, while the Matthew Henson public housing would be for African-Americans and Marcos de Niza for Mexican-Americans. After the 1960s civil-rights movement, desegregation opened the housing units to people of all ethnicities.

The barracks-style homes deteriorated significantly over the years. City officials placed Frank Luke Addition on their to-do list of public-housing projects that needed redevelopment.

This year, the Phoenix Housing Department was awarded a $20 million grant by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to raze the old units and build 250 new senior and mixed-income family units on the Frank Luke Addition property.

After demolition, construction crews will build the first portion of the project - a three-story building with 60 rental units for seniors. Those are expected to be finished by early 2013.

Then, crews will work on the second phase of the project - constructing 20 buildings with room for 190 families of various incomes. That housing project could be ready for move-in by 2014.

Demand for these units could be high. A February report by HUD's research arm found that with the nation's economic dips, more people are experiencing a loss in income, so the need for affordable housing is on the rise.

Kim Dorney, head of the Phoenix Housing Department, said the residents who had to relocate from the Frank Luke Addition for the demolition will have the first opportunity to occupy one of the new units.

The Frank Luke Addition is the third housing development in Phoenix to receive a federal HOPE VI grant. The other two housing developments are Krohn West and Matthew Henson.

Congress started HOPE VI - short for "Homeownership Opportunities for People Everywhere VI" - in 1992 in response to a special report on the condition of the nation's public-housing sites.

The National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing said in the report that 6 percent - an estimated 86,000 public-housing units - around the country were in high-poverty, inner-city neighborhoods and plagued by frequent crime and high unemployment. Those homes also were deteriorating, the panel found.

The HOPE VI program was created to fund structural improvements to public-housing sites or entirely new housing developments to replace older, outdated structures.

HOPE VI provided $152 million in public-housing grants for the federal fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30. Phoenix's Frank Luke Addition was among eight projects that received the grant.

by Emily Gersema The Arizona Republic Oct. 23, 2011 09:42 PM

Phoenix homes, part of segregated past, demolished

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