WILLIAMSON, WV (WOWK) – A federal housing initiative debuted in Williamson Monday, but it doesn’t rely on brick and mortar buildings.
There are currently 57 ‘Envision Centers’ nationwide, now, a formerly vacant building at the Williamson Family Resource Center is one of them.
Joe DeFelice, a regional administrator with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, says they’re the brainchild of Secretary of Housing Ben Carson, who wants to invest in people rather than in buildings.
“If we invest in buildings, 40, 50 years from now we’re tearing down those buildings and building new ones, so we really have to figure out a way to invest in people and break down the cycle of intergenerational poverty,” he said.
Their solution is to provide a resource center for HUD-assisted-families to get workforce training and other support they may need.
The building is owned by the Housing Authority of Williamson and has a food pantry, a kitchen, and a library for children, but most importantly it will provide workforce training.
Pauline Sturgill, executive director of the housing authority of Williamson points to David Childress as a success story.
A longtime resident of public housing, Childress is finally moving out after receiving job training to be a maintenance worker.
“I got to open my own business, they gave me the opportunity to do that, and by being able to do that I was able to adopt my eldest grandchildren,” said Childress.
While Sturgill says they received no extra federal funding to turn it into an Envision Center, by having the endorsement, it gives them greater access to grants through HUD.