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Agency OKs $12.3M to renovate Las Vegas public housing complex

The Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority on Thursday approved spending $12.3 million to modernize a 125-unit public housing complex north of downtown Las Vegas.

The project is expected to begin around the end of this month at Archie Grant Park, a community for low-income seniors and the disabled. The authority’s board voted unanimously to award the contract to Henderson-based B&H Construction.

The collection of 35 single-story townhouses was built in 1963 and is one of Southern Nevada’s oldest public housing developments. Homes on the northern half of the development will be gutted and rebuilt from the inside.

“It’s going to be done down to the studs,” said Frank Stafford, the housing authority’s director of modernization and development. “Everything is coming out: electrical, plumbing, water lines.”

Homes on the southern half of the 13-acre community were renovated in 2007. The housing authority will spend about $752,000 to replace the roofs and air conditioning systems of those homes, improvements that will also be seen on the north side of the development.

The project also includes opening a community exercise room and improving the community’s landscaping and shared outdoor recreation spaces, Stafford said. Altogether, the improvements should reduce the community’s consumption of electricity and water.

Stafford said the project could be finished as soon as November 2020. Batches of homes will be renovated on a rolling basis, and any residents displaced by the construction will be provided affordable housing while it is being completed and then be allowed to return to Archie Grant Park.

The renovations are being made possible through the federal Rental Assistance Demonstration program, which allows housing authorities to borrow private money to repair and rebuild public housing.

Archie Grant Park will no longer be a public housing development at the end of the project. While the housing authority will still manage and maintain the property, Stafford said residents living there will be given project-based vouchers allowing them to pay 30 percent of their income toward rent.

Housing authorities across the nation have used to Rental Assistance Demonstration program to breathe new life into their aging inventory of public housing. Last year the program was used to rebuild a 120-unit affordable housing complex, Rose Gardens, in North Las Vegas.

“It’s enabling us to do what we otherwise cannot do because of the declining (Department of Housing and Urban Development) funds for public housing,” board Chairman Scott Black said of the program. “We have a significant structural deficit in terms of how much money we need versus how much money we have on hand to fix and repair our current public housing portfolio.”

Second term approved

The board also voted 5-1 on Thursday to give Black a second one-year term as chairman and unanimously voted for new Commissioner Olivia Diaz, a Las Vegas City Council member, to become vice chair.

Black, who also serves on the North Las Vegas City Council, said he wanted his second term leading the housing authority’s board to focus on improving communication between residents, landlords, staff and the board. He also shared Executive Director Chad Williams’ vision of diversifying the housing authority’s revenue streams so the agency relied less on HUD funding.

“The first year I developed a lot of baseline understanding of the agency,” Black said. “Having the privilege to do it again for a second year, I feel like I have a good direction.”

The board also voted unanimously to renew its contract with long-serving outside legal counsel Parker, Nelson & Associates. The Las Vegas-based firm, headed by attorney Teddy Parker, was one of three that bid on the contract.

The firm has represented the housing authority since it was created in 2010 by combining four smaller housing authorities. The one-year contract is worth up to $333,250, with options to extend it by two more years at the same annual amount.

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

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