Residents of Foote Homes, the city's last remaining public housing project, were chosen for a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) pilot program aimed at helping them find and train for jobs.
The Jobs Plus pilot program was announced at a press conference at Foote Homes on Thursday afternoon. HUD's General Deputy Assistant Secretary of Public Housing Jemine Bryon said HUD will give the Memphis Housing Authority $3 million to implement the program
Memphis is one of nine U.S. cities chosen to receive the funding for its public housing residents. Bryon said 57 cities applied. The funds will be invested into opportunities for public housing residents to increase their income through employment-related services, financial incentives, and community support for work.
There are more than 1,000 people living in 414 households at Foote Homes. Bryon said the program has a goal of enrolling 291 of those residents into the Jobs Plus program and placing 60 of them into jobs.
"Just because public housing residents are of modest means doesn't mean they have modest dreams," Bryon told those gathered at the conference, many of whom were residents of Foote Homes.
City officials plan to submit an application in September to HUD to raze Foote Homes' 57 buildings. HUD denied the city the $30 million grant for the project last year. But city Director of Housing and Community Development Robert Lipscomb will try again this year. Lipscomb is overseeing a plan to tear down the aging complex and replace it with a mixed-income housing development like Legends Park, Cleaborne Pointe, University Place, and others.
Residents of Foote Homes, backed by the Vance Avenue Collaborative, have been fighting the city's plan to tear down their apartment complex for years. They've released alternative plans, calling on the city to spruce up the complex with bigger porches, rain gardens, better lighting, walkways, and more trees.