The deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Maurice Jones traveled to Chester, Pennsylvania to tour some HUD financed developments. HUD is a government agency that works to create quality and sustainable affordable housing for all.
The executive director of Chester Housing Authority, Steven A. Fischer guided the tour. Included on the tour were the senior housing complex along Avenue of the States and the community garden at the Ruth L. Bennett Homes. The community garden gives residents of the Ruth L. Bennett Homes a feeling of community while gardening outdoors. The senior housing complex is an affordable housing residency for seniors.
On this his first visit to Chester, Pennsylvania Jones stated that the tour showed the city’s “spectrum of challenges and opportunities” facing Chester.
“I think the housing authority has the lead in being able to identify the local opportunities. What they were showing me today was some of the work that is already going on. There is clearly more work that needs to go in rehabbing housing. There is already more work underway in building more units for seniors and elderly. Our intent is to keep working with the housing authority in the city to get those projects complete,” Jones said.
There are a few different federal agencies that are actively helping Chester, Pennsylvania to develop, including HUD. There is also Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) federal initiative. The Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) initiative does not provide direct funding, but helps participating cities “navigate through bureaucratic red tape and spark economic development.”
Chester, Pennsylvania was selected to be a participant in SC2 last summer which has sparked a stronger emphasis on the city by HUD.
“We’re looking to intensify the work that we’re doing,” Jones said. “The hope is that those combined efforts will make us better partners for Chester, Pennsylvania than we were beforehand.”
The tour went through the housing authority’s various buildings, with a strong emphasis on the community garden. Fischer stated that the garden is a “residual effect of funding.”
“It was a nice opportunity to show someone from Washington what really happens on the ground. We’re always under the gun where our funding is concerned. When you can get a decision maker to the field like this it’s a good opportunity to show them the good use that the funding gets put to.”