Historic Hampton community receives a facelift

Jordan Crawford | 8/21/2013, 4:01 p.m.
HRHA got approval to remove the Lincoln Park public housing community.
Lincoln Park will undergo a make-over according to HRHA officials.

Hard hats and orange cones will be put to use once again as Hampton’s largest housing project is one step closer to being demolished, thanks to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The Hampton Redevelopment and Housing Authority (HRHA) received approval for plans to remove the aging Lincoln Park public housing community in a memo received this week from the Office of Public Housing.

Lincoln Park has historically been a magnet for drug use and violent crimes, although authority officials now say they are trying to clean up the complex's grounds and reputation.

“There is still a lot to be done before the work gets started,” said HRHA Director Ronald Jackson. “But HUD’s approval of the project is an important milestone that we hope will be seen as welcome news for the families of Lincoln Park.”

HUD has approved the HRHA request for the demolition of 2 non‐dwelling buildings, 17 buildings containing 289 units, and then the disposal of the more than 20 acres of land. The 41-year-old Lincoln Park project will be replaced with town homes and garden‐style apartments in partnership with private developers.

The mission is to replace Lincoln Park with a lower density community. Despite its plan to reduce the number of units at Lincoln Park, the authority would like to keep the existing number of public housing units within the city, which is about 550. The authority will perform a housing market study to determine how many units it should build and the rates it should charge.

“What will replace Lincoln Park will be a mixed‐income community, not a project,” says Jackson. “Our goal is to create homes that any current Lincoln Park resident and current or future resident of the City of Hampton would be proud to call home.”

Urban Design Associates of Pittsburgh has been requested to design the new property. The design firm created many of Hampton’s neighborhood master plans in the mid-2000s.

The authority also operates two other housing sites: North Phoebus Townhouses, a 100-unit complex for families on Chamberlin Avenue in Phoebus, and Langley Village, a 146-unit complex for the elderly located on Langley Avenue in Northampton.

The next step in the structured HUD process will be to obtain housing vouchers for the families currently living in the Lincoln Park Apartments, made available by the federal government for public housing relocations.

A Housing Choice Voucher will be offered to low-income families, disabled individuals, and the elderly in Lincoln Park. The vouchers can be used to help them move to a community of their choice. This application process is expected to take at least a few months. In that time, HRHA will continue one‐on-one meetings with tenants to keep them up to date on timelines and assist in relocation planning.

Through a variety of supportive services, the HRHA Relocation Services Team will assist residents to:

• Identify suitable and comparable replacement housing,

• Coordinate physical moves, and

• Access any counseling and social services that may be needed to improve their quality of life.

Jackson does not plan on asking the city for any funding for this project.

In spring 2010, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference asked then-authority director Frank A. Lofurno Jr. to resign after a man was shot and killed at Lincoln Park. The conference also cited ongoing concerns about violence among residents.

“This project and how we manage it is a chance for HRHA to live its mission,” says Aaru Ma’at, Director of Community Development for HRHA. “That is to provide well‐planned and attractive communities for our residents while assisting families in maintaining self‐sufficiency. Another goal is to help our Lincoln Park residents find the good home they deserve so we can transform the current property into a community of choice.”