Bringing hope to those in public housing is the ultimate goal of a new EnVision Center opened Monday on the grounds of the Willingham Village housing community, a speaker said Monday.
Denise Cleveland-Leggett, the Department of Housing and Urban Development Region IV administrator, told local leaders the program is being pushed by HUD Secretary Ben Carson.
“The reason we are here today is because of his vision of wanting to see people excel and people grow,” Cleveland-Leggett said.
EnVision Centers were conceived of to offer HUD-assisted families access to a variety of support services that can help them achieve self-sufficiency. The goal is to make shrinking federal resources more readily available to a greater number of households.
Cleveland-Leggett said the pillars upon which the EnVision Center program are based include economic empowerment, educational advancement, health and wellness along with character and leadership.
“I believe in new starts. I believe in new beginnings,” said Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton. “It takes vision and this community, Rome, is blessed by a community of people who make impossibilities possible.”
The lion’s share of the credit goes to Northwest Georgia Housing Authority Executive Director Sandra Hudson, Cleveland-Leggett said.
The center will leverage assistance from government agencies, non-profits, major corporations and faith-based organizations to help individuals climb the ladder of opportunity to reach their full potential.
“Starting Friday, we’re going to be starting a budget and literacy class,” NWGHA EnVision Center Coordinator Sarah Bradfield said. “We’ve already offered a lot of these programs but the great thing is, we’re going to bring them under one roof and make it more convenient for residents to access them.”
Cayanna Good, state director of adult education within the Technical College System of Georgia, told attendees that over 60% of those who come into the adult education program read at a fifth grade level or lower.
“The need is great,” Good said.
But despite difficulties there are some successes, and the group hopes to capitalize on that.
Demarcus Alexander, a young man who has participated in the adult education program run by the housing authority, spoke of his journey through the GED program to the point where he is now enrolled at Shorter University.
“It’s not easy and it’s not over,” Alexander said.
Education is one step to becoming self-sufficient. The goal is to take a look at all of the reasons a family isn’t self-sufficient and address them.
Adrienne Gibson Christopher spoke about her participation in the Family Self-Sufficiency Program, which took her from a public housing resident to a homeowner.
In 2001, she moved into Graham Homes with a premature infant son. After attending a homeowners workshop she took advantage of every opportunity to get a job and put away some money until she was able to make a down-payment on a home in 2007.
“Some may look down on people who live in public housing but I made it work to my advantage,” she said. “And because of the assistance I received, I am a homeowner today.”