Roanoke gets millions of dollars in funding to upgrade public housing projects

Nearly $4 million from a Virginia Housing Development Authority grant will be used to fund Roanoke’s projects

Housing projects in Roanoke will finally get a facelift thanks to a grant that is worth millions of dollars

ROANOKE, Va. – Three public housing projects in Roanoke will finally get a facelift thanks to a new grant worth millions of dollars.

Nearly $4 million from a Virginia Housing Development Authority grant is going to the Star City to upgrade public housing projects.

The money will help fix windows at Melrose Towers, boilers at Hunt Manor will be replaced after 50 years, and Blue Stone Park will get new windows, boilers, and even two new units.

“It’s great because we receive a lot of calls when we turn on the heat, that the heat isn’t working,” David Bustamante, Roanoke Redevelopment Housing Authority Executive Director said. “The residents have problems and you have to give them heaters till we get somebody out there to fix it.”

Bustamante said either Blue Stone Park or Hunt Manor will also see kitchen and bathroom upgrades.

Over the next three months, Bustamante and his team are pushing for repositioning, which means the units will be modernized and then turned into Section 8 contracts.

Through Section 8 housing, renters are able to give a voucher to private landlords that offer homes that meet the requirements. There are 186 units eligible to build and make available by using this method.

“In Roanoke and across the world there is an affordable housing crisis,” Bustamante said. “Fixing the units we currently have is important. But it’s also important for us to add additional units.”

300 people have been on the housing waitlist since 2019, and the Section 8 waitlist is expected to reopen by early September.

Bustamante said when applications open, they receive about 3,000 applicants, but he expects this year’s applicant pool to nearly double with the housing crisis pressure.

“There’s a lot of need,” Bustamante said. “There’s a lot of people who are looking for a place to live. And we are doing our best to accommodate that.”

By doing the repositioning method, Bustamante said it would allow them to receive a 20-year contract to keep the funding stable.

Therefore, all the projects on backlog through the capital fund will be tackled if the homes become Section 8 units.

The team will present the repositioning plan to the board of commissioners in three months, and if the plan is approved, Bustamante said they could see groundbreaking in late 2022 or by early 2023.

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Alexus joined 10 News in October 2020.