SOCIAL ISSUES

AC Housing Authority and HUD officials discuss plan to upgrade public housing

BY Brenda Flanagan, Senior Correspondent |

Stanley Holmes housing dates back to the Great Depression, 40 years before the first casino rose over Atlantic City’s skyline. It’s three sections of barracks-like projects, sprawl a mile off the boardwalk.

“Yeah, a lot of people been living here forever so I don’t know if they’ll be able to live other places,” said Theresa Brown.

Brown’s ready to go. She’s lived in the housing for almost a year with her two kids paying $50 a month for one of the 420 subsidized units. They’re all destined for probable demolition by Atlantic City’s Housing Authority. Brown says the heat doesn’t always work and the sewer backs up.

“I would love to move somewhere different or have it be nicer. Sometimes new things make better people do more things instead of just having the same thing over and over again. Maybe this will switch up people’s outlook,” Brown said.

“I think we all agree that public housing probably began with good intentions, but ultimately what it did was silo poverty and silo opportunity from those who truly need it,” said Housing and Urban Development Regional Administrator Lynne Patton.

Patton toured Stanley Holmes Wednesday with the Atlantic City Housing Authority Executive Director Tom Hannon. He outlined the current plan to demolish Stanley Holmes slowly, a section at a time and only after building new units like town homes — mini-Stanleys, he called them — scattered across Atlantic City. They discussed using a HUD program called RAD, or rental assistance demonstration, to convert the apartments to Section 8 assistance.

“That doesn’t change anything for the residents, they pay the same income-based rent that they’re paying in public housing. And have the same protection so that nobody loses their housing. We’re always talking to them about improving the housing that they’re currently living in. But also with rental assistance demonstration, we’re bring in private investment dollars,” said Hannon.

“Nobody will be displaced or moved until they have an actual place to go to, that they can finally call home,” Patton said.

The authority will need $200 million to demolish and rebuild Stanley Holmes and it could take 12 to 18 years. They’ve identified three possible partners: The Michaels Organization, PennRose, and the Metropolitan Developing Group. The authority will solicit residents’ input.

“And it’s very important to meet very frequently, be repetitive with information. I think the hardest part is always the communication and making sure every resident, to the extent possible, has a voice,” said Maria Maio-Messano, the director of HUD’s New Jersey field office.

Some families have lived at Stanley Holmes for decades. It’s been three generations for Tasha Faulkner, but now she’s leaving.

“My mom passed away. My mom lived in the second village, my grandmom, so I don’t have nobody here. I’m out. Everybody down south. That’s where all my family moved to,” said Faulkner.

The Housing Authority meets Thursday to choose from among three co-developers for Stanley Holmes. Public hearings will be scheduled soon afterwards.