(Columbia, SC) – On January 17, 2019, Columbia Housing experienced the unimaginable, when two of its residents from the Allen Benedict Court public housing community lost their lives due to carbon monoxide poisoning and hundreds of families had to be evacuated from their homes. It was a tragedy felt across the nation, particularly for those of us in the housing industry. At the time, I was the CEO for the Lafayette Housing Authority in Lafayette, LA, and I just remember being deeply saddened and certainly not thinking that months later I’d be tasked with responding to the devastation and community shake up that followed that tragedy.
Today, as CEO for Columbia Housing, I’m so proud to report that we have worked diligently to restore public trust; we have bridged new partnerships; we have done the internal culture work; and we remain committed to our mission of providing decent, safe, and quality housing for the families we serve. Over the last couple of years, we assessed each of our properties unit-by-unit to develop a plan to address the $250M in deferred maintenance and obsolescence. That plan, Vision 2030, allows us to redevelop, renovate, and reposition our entire housing portfolio to better serve our families using tools provided by HUD and others in the affordable and attainable housing industry. Right now, Columbia Housing has more than $100M in new construction development projects underway.
In 2022, with a dedicated and supportive Board of Commissioners, an empathetic team of working professionals, and a myriad of local, state, and federal partners–Columbia Housing realized a host of milestones. It has been our commitment to raise the bar by creating more available housing in Richland County that is both attainable and affordable, while providing quality service for the 16,000 people for whom we currently provide housing in Richland County.
- Closed on Oaks at St. Anna’s Park – Oak Terrace – New Construction – 95-unit building for seniors.
- Closed on Oaks at St Anna’s Park – Oak Park – New Construction – 190-unit townhome community for families.
- Closed on Haven at Palmer Point – New Construction – 150-unit senior community.
- Awarded 84 Emergency Housing Vouchers for homeless individuals or those at risk of being homelessness.
- Awarded 49 New Housing Choice Vouchers. Columbia Housing provides housing rental assistance to 4,968 families through the Housing Choice Voucher Program.
- Added 59 New Active Landlords to the Housing Choice Voucher Program. To date, Columbia Housing has 2000+ landlords providing housing to Housing Choice Voucher recipients.
- Received $45,000 Gen Z Grant from the Department of Health and Environmental Control to establish a youth advisory group to engage young people in teen health and leadership opportunities and to educate youth on Adulthood Preparation topics in South Carolina.
- Conducted two workshops on national platform at National Association of Housing & Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) 2022 Annual Conference & Exhibition.
- Received nine (9) National Awards of Merit in the categories of Administrative Innovation & Resident Services from the National Association of Housing & Redevelopment Officials.
- Completed successful demolition of 80-year-old obsolescent public housing property, Allen Benedict Court.
- Delivered more than 300+ Virtual Workshops for residents in the categories of First-Time Homebuyers, Employment Opportunities, Career Development, Life Skills, Primary Medical Care and Health Services, Financial Management, Social Skills, and more.
- Provided $30 Million in rental assistance to more than 2,000 private property owners, providing 4,968 families with homes through the Housing Choice Voucher program.
As successful as our 2022 efforts have been, we are super excited about FORGING AHEAD IN 2023! We are a force—on a mission to strategically and intentionally deliver innovative and equitable affordable housing solutions for all. #THISisColumbiaHousing