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Decatur Housing Authority Wins Major Awards for Decatur Revitalization Projects

Decatur Housing Authority (DHA, has been honored nationally and regionally for its visionary transformation of the former Gateway Manor and Oakview Apartments in Decatur, Ga. into Trinity Walk and Oakview Walk, which now provide much-needed affordable and workforce housing in the City of Decatur.  Recent awards include:

  • Award of Excellence from the Southeast Regional Council of NAHRO (National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials)
  • Award of Merit from NAHRO
  • Regional Excellence Honorable Mention from the Atlanta Regional Commission

"It's extremely gratifying to see the rebirth of Trinity Walk and Oakview Walk honored by NAHRO and the Atlanta Regional Commission," said DHA CEO/Executive Director Douglas Faust.  "What made this project possible was the support of the City of Decatur and numerous community partners, all of whom recognize the value of having a diverse workforce within the city limits and providing the tools families need to educate their children and live healthy, stable lives."

The two apartment communities were revitalized over five years in three phases:  Trinity Walk I & II (renovation of 121 units at 421 W. Trinity Place) and Trinity Walk III (razing and rebuilding 34 units at 111 Oakview Rd. and renamed Oakview Walk Apartments).  The new construction replaced outdated, 50-year old buildings with energy-efficient one, two and three bedroom apartments, plus numerous onsite amenities such as children's playgrounds, outdoor gathering spaces, raised garden beds and walking trails.  Indoors, the centrally-located community Resource Center features a fully-equipped computer room, recreational area, kitchen, classrooms and laundry facility.  The project was undertaken as a partnership between by DHA, the City of Decatur, Georgia Department of Community Affairs, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), City Schools of Decatur, Hudson Housing Capital, Sugar Creek Capital and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett said, "We are proud of our long partnership with the Decatur Housing Authority.  DHA is a leader in building affordable and attainable housing that fosters community and that people are proud to call home.  Congratulations to the DHA team on a job well done!"

"I believe that affordable, achievable and accessible housing is the foundation that supports a stable and positive life, and thankfully, this belief is shared by City of Decatur leadership and many community partners," said Faust.  "With stability, families can pursue healthy habits, greater educational opportunities and quality employment.  The Decatur Housing Authority exists to provide excellent affordable housing and to form positive, supportive and healthy communities.  We are proud of these new homes, as they are the capstone of five years of hard work in planning, financing, resident relocation, construction, development and property management.  This massive three-phase redevelopment of Trinity Walk I and II and Oakview Walk represents nearly $30 million in revitalization in the City of Decatur."

Decatur's affordable housing communities are located within the city center, where residents can enjoy and utilize public transportation, excellent public schools, job opportunities and cultural offerings.  Since the new apartments were built on an occupied site, a strategic, phased program of temporary housing had to be implemented, with as little disruption as possible for residents.  Crucial to the plan's success, says Faust, was the partnership with City Schools of Decatur, which allowed students to remain in the public schools, even if they were temporarily relocated outside the school district.

 In addition to the local school system, numerous community organizations supported the project, and created ongoing partnerships with Trinity Walk management and residents to foster healthy lifestyle choices and educational opportunities.  These partnerships include:

  • Decatur's Wylde Center and the University of Georgia Extension Service, which offer onsite gardening, cooking and nutrition programs.
  • DeKalb Mental Health is providing free regular health screenings to residents.
  • Decatur Education Foundation, local citizens and Decatur businesses have collaborated to create The Opportunity Partnership, a mentoring program for low income students.  The program connects the students with quality opportunities to help them explore their interests, find their passions and develop useful life skills.
  • DHA's award-winning STARS Afterschool Program, offered onsite for younger students.  It includes tutoring, homework assistance, reading, computer skills and enrichment classes. 

At the Grand Opening of Oakview Walk, Melissa Heffner, chairman of the DHA Board of Commissioners, said, "Our community's passion for affordable housing and its investment in the families that are a part of DHA amaze and inspire me.  Today's grand opening is a tangible reminder of DHA's mission to 'support the strength and diversity of Decatur's community'.  But housing is only part of what DHA prioritizes.  Our commitment to strengthening Decatur's community reaches beyond real estate development and housing management.  Since 1992, DHA has funded 468 scholarships totaling $588,200 to support each graduating high school senior as they begin their collegiate careers, as well as assisting adult learners continuing their educations."

Originally published by Metro Atlanta CEO