A celebration of the honor was held last week for the one-stop shop that helps residents achieve goals of self-sufficiency. Among those attending were U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) officials, Birmingham Housing Authority leaders, city officials and the Woodlawn High School Marching Colonels.
The Envision Centers are collective efforts by public and private organizations that help low-income people. Programs are based on the HUD centers four pillars: economic empowerment; educational advancement; health and wellness; and character development.
Michael Lundy, president and CEO of the Housing Authority of Birmingham, said a number of factors make the Campus of Hope ideal. Marks Village, he said, has the lowest average annual family income – $11,000 – as well as crime statistics among the highest of the 14 authority communities.
“We believe that as we lift Marks Village up as a beacon of hope … as a beacon of light … as a beacon of success, then public housing residents across the four corners of Birmingham will be able to stand up and say, ‘If Marks Village can rise and shine like the brightest star in the sky, so can we.’ … It’s where hopelessness ends and hope begins,” Lundy said.
HUD Southeast Regional Administrator Denise Cleveland-Leggett said, “We have to give people more than just a house. It’s great to have a place to live but you have to give people more than that. When you look into the eyes of an individual and they don’t have hope for themselves, they don’t have hope for their families, don’t have hope for their future – that’s a dream-killer. So, what this Campus of Hope is doing, it is bringing hope, putting hope back in the eyes of our people.”
Cleveland-Leggett presented Lundy and the Board of Commissioners with a congratulatory letter that read in part, “… HUD looks forward to assisting and supporting your Envision Center demonstration site by helping to build program capacity, increase federal and local partnerships, address identified service gaps and engage stakeholders to meet community needs.”