New program rehabilitates housing units, trains residents

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Five people who live in public housing in Charlottesville are now part of a program to rehabilitate public housing units and train residents for jobs in the construction field.

Residents on the Job is a partnership between the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority, the Public Housing Association of Residents, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville, Piedmont Virginia Community College Community Self Sufficiency Programs, and the city of Charlottesville.

“We are so excited about this partnership,” said Grant Duffield, executive director of CRHA. “This isn't just about rehabilitating units, it's about bringing new opportunities to residents so they can achieve their goals.”

The public housing resident apprentice program was shaped by PHAR, which also recruited the resident apprentices, like Jolene Noelle.

“I'm motivated, I'm ready to work,” she said as she showed up for her first day on the job. “I'm looking forward to using the opportunity take my career path in a different direction from where I was going.”

Joy Johnson, the chair of PHAR's Board of Directors, says he community will benefit from this program in many ways.

“Residents can and should be doing the work to house more families while at the same time they gain valuable skills and thrive as individuals,” she said.

Noelle, Takiyah Jones, Yarnelle Carter, Raoul Bissehossolo and Deirdre Gilmore will all be working under the supervision of Habitat for Humanity and CRHA project supervisors.

They will spend the next year fixing up 20 public housing units, learning the construction trades on Habitat job sites, and participating in skills training through PVCC.

The participants will also get skill-building experiences, along with benefiting from support through PVCC's Network2Work program and the Charlottesville Department of Social Services.

“Our goal is to help our neighbors, like these five job-seekers, realize their potential by connecting hem both with training and with support services, such as child care, transportation and medical care,” said Ridge Schuyler, dean of PVCC's community self-sufficiency programs.

The partner organizations hope this program can be replicated at a scale to address local housing and job training challenges.

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