Danville Housing Authority opens community service center

A community service center established by the Housing Authority of Danville is now open for individuals and families living in public housing and it’s celebrating with a community-wide open house on Thursday.

The newly refurbished center, 121 Toombs Court in Batewood Homes, will be open to the public and residents from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday. Visitors can learn about all of the services the center and its community partners are offering in order to help local residents improve their quality of life in several different ways.

“I truly hope that through this facility, we see lives changed and an entire community come together to empower individuals and families to lead self-sufficient lives,” said Tim Kitts, the Housing Authority’s executive director.

“Our vision for this center is that it becomes a centralized hub for support in the community for everyone that provides services or receives services, with the goals of economic empowerment; educational advancement; health and wellness and character leadership.”

The programs and services will be evolving over the next several months, Kitts said. Many non-profit agencies, faith-based organizations and corporations have committed to bringing their programs to the center, making it easier for residents to find and participate in their programs.

“Our goal is that we are able to remove any and all barriers for someone in their attempt to lead a self-sufficient life,” Kitts said. “There are so many organizations in Boyle County that are doing amazing things for people. … The issue is many of the organizations find themselves serving the same people, but working in silos. There have been efforts to bring those organizations together … but actually working together under one roof is still a piece that is missing.”

Kitts said the Housing Authority’s goal is to help people improve their lives and be able to leave public housing because they’ve become self-sufficient.

Resident services coordinator Gwen Campbell has already scheduled several ongoing programs at the center for every weekday in February. For example, once a week, Alethea Price with the Boyle County Extension Office will be leading a classes with different focuses such as budgeting; Erica Sluder, an employment specialist with Goodwill Industries will assist people with résumé writing and job searches; Andrea Lewis, certified domestic violence advocate with Greenhouse 17 will be available for individual appointments; Anna Houston, director of Families First Resource Center will host a weekly “Nurturing Families” support group; and Jayla Pennycuff, a housing authority resident, will be hosting a basic computer skills class weekly, Kitts explained.

The center even has a computer lab with six desktop computers connected to the internet, a printer and fax, Kitts said. The computers were donated by the Boyle County Public Library after they updated their computers, Kitts said. “This is a great opportunity to conduct job searches and to do homework.”

The initial plan for the center was for the local Housing Authority to use federal funding for an “EnVision Center” that would have allowed the agency to purchase or lease a much larger building in order to allow all organizations to be under one roof for the benefit of the residents who use and need their services.

Kitts said in late summer of last year, the Housing Authority learned it wasn’t chosen for the first round of funding for that federal program, “so we decided to find a way to move forward with our plan without federal funding.”

The center on Toombs Court is a scaled-down version of what they originally set out to accomplish, Kitts said.

“This center will be a great starting point and will give us an idea moving forward of not only the buy-in from other organizations, but also the city leaders and the community as a whole.”

Kitts said the center will be available for support groups and organizations to meet. “We are also looking at ways that residents and community members can use this space for birthday parties and other events for as minimal cost as possible.”

The Housing Authority has been talking to residents about the new center and the possibilities it will offer for many months, Kitts said. “We have heard from quite a few residents of how they think this will be a great addition to not only them, but our agency and the entire community.”

Some people have commented that the small building resembles a church, however, when it was renovated in 1994, the intention was to have it look like a small school house, according to Advocate-Messenger archives.

“I hope that the look of the building is enticing for folks to come into and a place that’s warm and inviting to them,” Kitts said.

 

IF YOU GO

The Housing Authority of Danville’s community service center, 121 Toombs Court in Batewood Homes, will be open to the public and residents from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday for an open house. Visitors can learn about all of the services the center and its community partners are offering in order to help local residents improve their quality of life in several different ways.