Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Cville Weekly covers urban renewal report of 7-17-06: Daily Progress takes another pass

Council thanks heaven for Noah Schwartz: Housing director praised for "righting the ship"

Issue #18.30 :: 07/24/2006 - 07/31/2006

In recent years, Charlottesville’s Redevelopment and Housing Authority (CRHA)—charged with the oversight and maintenance of Section 8 and public housing—has been notoriously inept. Consequently, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has classified the City for the last three years with troubled housing status.

To combat the embarrassing boondoggle, the City hired a new director for the CHRA, and on Monday night, July 17, he was ready to give a prognosis of his first year’s work to City Council. First, Councilor and CRHA Chair Kendra Hamilton had a few words. “We are relieved this is in the capable hands of Noah Schwartz, who is leading us out of the valley of the shadow of death,” she said. “We are very grateful for him.”

“No pressure,” Schwartz replied to scattered laughs. He then ran through an exhausting litany of stats (with a $5.6 million budget, the CRHA manages 376 units of public housing at 11 sites in the city, and also administers 300 Housing Choice Voucher rental units to approximately 2,000 individuals), accomplishments (“What I’m most proud of is our customer service,” Schwartz said) and challenges (HUD doesn’t finance the agency enough to meet public housing needs so it is $100,000 short of revenue every year). As he talked, slides of happy public housing residents flashed on a screen behind him.

“We have a lot more to do that we haven’t done,” concluded Schwartz, before ceding the floor to the council. New councilor Julian Taliaferro offered the first of many words of praise. “I’d like to commend you for the emphasis you’ve put on customer service,” he said. “People need to be treated with the utmost respect.”

“We understand where they’re coming from,” Schwartz explained.

“The first thing we have to do is get off the troubled status so we can get on firm footing,” Hamilton suggested.

“I just love how you say things,” Schwartz gushed, drawing guffaws.

New Councilor Dave Norris also congratulated Schwartz for his customer service before offering a broad compliment. “I commend you and your staff for righting the ship.”

Mayor David E. Brown recounted a brief anecdote of how he once ran a soccer program for low-income kids before summing up the council’s overall affection for the new director. “You really have our support.”

Self-described newspaper of record The Daily Progress decided not to mention the report even though a Progress reporter was present and reported on other aspects of the meeting. The Progress has a policy of not recording the history of the minority community in Charlottesville, as if it never happened. I have documented the policy as early as 2003.

For a more detailed, balanced report with historical perspective, check out:
"An inconvenient truth": Report from Housing Authority: Update on archives, HUD request

And this lovely gem:

"Blake Caravati moves on from City Council"
By Liz Geddes, staff writer for The Tribune, July 20, 2006


"Creative tension is what we have to have here," [Councilor 1998-2006] Caravati said. "Tension to the point where it is nearly uncomfortable creates progressive discourse."

Caravati also said that the city's high poverty rate (among the highest in the state) is one of the reasons why it is such a world-class city because we are dealing with these problems and have created many programs to help address the issue of poverty. "Equality and justice is relevant, and that is what we have to strive for," he said.

Blake Caravati plans to continue to remain active within the Charlottesville community and has said that in a few years he might run for city office again "but that, it's all about timing."

Comment: Wow! Charlottesville is world-class because of its high poverty rate and successful poverty programs. I guess that makes sense to somebody.


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