Danville Housing Authority advances plan to demolish 6 buildings at Fair Oaks

Danville Housing Authority advances plan to demolish 6 buildings at Fair Oaks

DANVILLE — Danville Housing Authority officials took a major step toward demolition of six apartment buildings at the Fair Oaks public housing complex.

Housing authority commissioners gave their support at a meeting Monday night for a demolition plan that would eliminate 57 units at Fair Oaks.

Jaclyn Vinson, executive director of the housing authority, said staff met individually last week with the families who would be affected by the proposed demolition plan.

"Every family would be relocated as part of this. No one will lose their homes if the application is approved," said Vinson, who emphasized that the resolution commissioners approved only grants approval to continue with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development application process for demolition.

To get approval from HUD, Vinson said the housing authority must prove that the six structures are obsolete — an analysis that takes into consideration many factors, including age of the structures and the city's own building codes.

Vinson said the housing authority has a letter of support from the city of Danville to accompany the application. She said the city has also pledged some in-kind services to assist with actual demolition if the application is approved.

The six structures in question were built in the 1940s and '50s, and essentially have remained the same since then — two-story, brick-row houses. None of the units has central air-conditioning, according to Vinson. And safety regulations — like fire codes that require two points of escape from every room — prohibit residents from using a window cooling unit, because most bedrooms have only one window.

Vinson said if the application is submitted and approved, the residents living in the six buildings would be either relocated to similar, vacant units within public housing in Danville or given HUD vouchers to relocate to Section 8 rental housing in Danville or anywhere in the United States.

Vinson said with public housing occupancy rates over 90 percent, the authority would not be able to relocate all families into other public housing units. So vouchers would have to be issued, which all but two families indicated they would prefer. Vinson said the two families told housing authority staff that they like their units at Fair Oaks and wish another building could be chosen for demolition.

Danville Schools Superintendent Alicia Geddis, who is a housing authority commissioner, asked how the six buildings were chosen. Vinson said a variety of factors were considered, including age of buildings and roofs, occupancy rates of each and density.

Providing a rough estimate of a timeline, Vinson said demolition could happen as early as January, if the plan is approved by HUD.

Commissioner Pat O'Shaughnessy said he believes the application will have a better chance this time. A previous application submitted a few years ago was denied by HUD.

"I'm excited," O'Shaughnessy said. "And hopefully, HUD will approve it for our clients. They deserve it."

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