The Housing Authority of Danville has focused on improvements to its residences for decades, but work should finally get started on a new home for its offices this year.
Funding for a new office building is part of the five-year plan the housing authority director, Rachel White, said must be submitted to the federal government.
The new building, which is expected to cost about $1 million to finish, will be located at the end of Rosemont Avenue on five acres of property the housing authority has owned since the 1950s.
White said the project has been a need for more than a decade and has been included in the organization’s extended plans; however, it has continually been shelved in favor of other work.
Over the past couple of years, the housing authority has gutted and renovated parts of McIntyre Circle, the original section of Bate-Wood Homes, much of which was damaged in a 2010 flood, and has done mold remediation, among other work.
“The office project keeps getting pushed back because of other needs,” White said. “Making improvements to our units has been our first priority.”
The current offices are among the authority’s housing developments at 102 McIntyre Circle.
The original office was built in the 1950s with space for an executive director, a maintenance office, and an area for reception, records and other administrative functions.
Later, a wall to one of the adjoining apartments was taken out and a kitchen area and some additional downstairs and upstairs offices were added.
White said the most pressing needs are increased security and confidentiality. White said the six people who work out of the offices on a regular basis have to pass through one another’s space to get to other areas.
For example, anytime someone who is not credentialed to deal with housing authority information enters a room, the staff member in that room must close the file he or she is working on.
The mid-20th century building also has been difficult to retrofit with modern technology, meaning wires for computer systems are draped in various locations in the building.
Parking, which wasn’t as big of a need in 1951, has also become a concern.
“It is just not conducive to a good working environment,” White said.
Some architectural plans for the project have already been completed by successful bidder Sherman Carter Barnhart of Lexington.
The current drawings of the one-story building include space for six individually-contained offices, meeting and break rooms, and a reception area attached to a secure filing area, all of which are connected by a central hallway.
The money to pay for the building will come from the roughly $400,000 annual allotment the housing authority gets from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development for capital improvements.
The housing authority had been putting some of its money into a reserve fund for years in anticipation of the need to build new offices eventually.
However, HUD recently said reserve funds must go to operations and can’t be used for capital improvements.
White said she understands the move by HUD to control spending on the local level. However, she hopes federal officials will allow some of the reserve money to be used for more updates to the authority’s housing units.
Once the move takes place, White said the portion of the current offices that used to be an apartment will be turned back into a residence. The original office space will be made available to a non-profit group in need of a home for $1 per year.