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Tuesday , October 23 2018
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Home | Tag Archives: housing authority of el paso

Tag Archives: housing authority of el paso

Local Veteran Goes from Homeless to Homeownership

U.S. veteran Cholla Fox has gone from homelessness to homeownership through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program at the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso (HACEP).

Fox, 53, moves to a home in Northeast El Paso; her daughter and grandchildren will move in with her.

“I have gone through so much in my life – peaks and valleys – and I have traveled all over this country, I now believe that this home is where I can settle down and raise my family,” Fox said. “I have earned this and I’m proud of it.”

The HUD-VASH program through HACEP is a powerful resource for veterans to get themselves on a track to self-sufficiency. Fox’s journey to homeownership is the result of a partnership between three entities: The Office of U.S. Congressman Beto O’Rourke, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) and HACEP.

For HACEP CEO Gerald Cichon, the success of Fox and others is only the beginning.

“We have utilized the HUD-VASH program to the fullest extent since its 2008 inception to help our U.S. veterans rebuild their lives,” said Cichon. “Ms. Fox and others who have excelled in this program illustrate the power of this program and how it impacts the lives of veterans nationwide.”

Originally from Beaumont, Texas, Fox joined the U.S. Army in 1982 and was active for 25 years, living in El Paso during her first station of duty before leaving the region in 1998.

Even while facing homelessness, Fox never wavered in her determination to get back on her feet. She joined the HUD-VASH program in 2014 and worked to restore her credit and savings. She worked with program coordinators through HACEP’s Family Self-Sufficiency/Homeownership Program to begin the process of purchasing a home.

John Rhodes, a veteran who completed the HUD-VASH program a year ago, hopes that stories like Fox’s and his own will encourage struggling veterans to join the program.

“Any veteran who can take this opportunity and make the best of it should research it,” Rhodes said. “It is work, but the work is worth it when the realtor hands you the keys to your own home.”

Retired Col. Michael Amaral, director of the El Paso Veterans Affairs Health Care System, believes the HUD-VASH program is one of the most effective and supportive ways for veterans to use government resources to get back on their feet.

“It’s a collective effort to help our veterans, especially those in dire need of help,” said Amaral. “But the end result helps support those who have fought for our liberties we take for granted.”

A cavalcade of HACEP maintenance technicians, representatives from the local VA office, Congressman O’Rourke’s office and City Representative Sam Morgan’s office, and Cichon himself helped carry Fox’s belongings into her new home.

“This is part of our mission: Get people through our programs and into a life of independence and self-sufficiency,” said Cichon. “Veterans like Cholla and John are an inspiration to their families and our community.”

Gallery Courtesy HACEP

300 Backpacks Distributed at HACEP’s Annual Back-To-School Fair

On Saturday morning the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso (HACEP), with assistance from the Hunt Family Foundation’s donation of $10,000 to there were over 300 children from the agency’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Section 8 program who benefitted from the 9th Annual Back-To-School Fair.

“This event gives children in our HCV program a chance to get ahead on the school year with a new backpack and school supplies to start the academic year prepared,” said HACEP CEO Gerald Cichon.  “We are excited to offer this event for the ninth year and are grateful to the Hunt Family Foundation for its generous support.”

Hunt Companies, through their Family Foundation, donated $10,000 to HACEP in order to make this annual event possible. There were over 300 backpacks filled with necessary school supplies – like paper, scissors, notebooks, folders, glue, erasers and more – for a total value of $30 per backpack.

For families with multiple children in school at the same time, the start of the school year can become a financial struggle. According to Uplift Family Services, a California-based community and behavioral health service organization that advocates on behalf of children, children are typically excited for a new school year but encounter mild-to-severe anxiety due to a lack of resources required by school districts.

“Every child should be excited to go back to school and prepared with the necessary school supplies,” said City of El Paso District #2 Representative Alexsandra Annello. “No child should feel embarrassed for not having what they need, nor should the parents struggle to provide their child the opportunities to succeed. This is why events like HACEP’s Back-To-School fair are so incredibly important because it encourages our community to support one another and set our children up for success.”

For the past eight years, HACEP has impacted the lives of over 3,000 children across all of its affordable housing programs and their families by providing the tools necessary to help them be successful in the classroom. One of the cornerstones of HACEP’s mission is to provide families with the tools necessary to lead a life of self-sufficiency, and in many ways this annual event is a major thread through the fabric of this initiative.

“As a parent myself, this event is just as important for the parents as it is for the children, because the parents are the ones who champion the young ones,” said HACEP Board of Commissioners Chairman Francisco Ortega. “These children see the effort that’s put into this event and it’s my hope they place a similar effort in their education.”

To help embody the essence of ‘champion,’ HACEP’s Back-To-School fair also featured El Paso’s Sweetheart and IBF World Featherweight Champion Jennifer Han – the Sun City’s homegrown champion. Jennifer Han shared words of encouragement with the families and children and speak to them about the importance of fighting for their future.

“I’m so honored to be part of this event witnessing the hundreds of young men and young women acknowledging the importance of their education and what it will mean for their future,” shares World Champion Jennifer Han. “As an El Pasoan, I am proud to champion our community and each one of these families and show that no matter who you are or where you come from, you can become the person you want to be.”

In addition to receiving backpacks full of school supplies, children and families were also able to enjoy access to a Health Fair – an added component to HACEP’s annual event – featuring 15 vendors highlighting public services offered to families.

Local community partners included Desert Sun Chiropractor, Allstate Insurance, Kool Smiles and more. Families were able to receive information on services afforded to them, along with health care items and even bicycle helmets for children provided by The Texas Department of State Health Services.

Gallery courtesy HACEP

Video+Gallery: HACEP Opens Up Old El Paso Natural Gas HQ for Tour

The Housing Authority of the City of El Paso (HACEP) hosted a walk-through of the historic Blue Flame Building before the reconstruction phase of the building commences in full.

A tour of the ground floor and executive floors took place on Friday afternoon, as representatives from the project’s developer, Franklin Development, and the project’s architect, In*Situ, discussed the development plans for The Blue Flame and highlight the historic elements.

According to HACEP, crews will convert the historic office building into 120 affordable apartment units throughout 12-floors, will include about 45,000 square-feet of office space throughout three-floors in addition to ground-floor commercial and retail space.

The project cost stands at approximately $40 Million.

**Author’s note: In the video, I referenced going with my grandparents to ‘pay a bill’ at the EPNG building – as the recollections of a 5-year-old aren’t exactly detail-oriented (as pointed out by a kind reader over at the Remember In El Paso When Facebook Page), those monthly visits may have been for an entirely different purpose, as bills were not paid at that location. cb**

HACEP Resident Wins National Youth Leadership Award

DENVER – Housing Authority of El Paso (HACEP) resident Aileen Martinez was honored with the All-America City Youth Leadership Award on Sunday night in the Mile-High City.

“I am so honored with this amazing award,” Aileen Martinez said. “To stand with our community leaders and share El Paso’s story on a national stage helps break down negative perceptions of El Paso. We are a city of champions and now the world knows.”

The award was bestowed upon Martinez, 14, for her work ethic, leadership and dedication in leading her middle school to three national Chess championship titles, and her ability to overcome adversity and using it to motivate others.

Martinez, previously a Henderson Middle School student who will now attend Jefferson High School, played a pivotal role in Henderson’s chess team. The middle school’s team has won three United States Chess Federation’s National Junior High Championship awards.

“Sharing the stories of HACEP residents who overcome adversity is key to breaking the stigma public housing residents unfairly face,” said HACEP CEO Gerald Cichon. “We are proud that Aileen has been honored with this award and her story serves as an inspiration to us all.”

El Paso was also named a 2018 All-America City on Sunday night. El Paso previously won the award in 1969 and 2010. The El Paso delegation’s theme was “City of Champions,” and the delegation was led by IBF World Champion Jennifer Han.

To win, each community must describe successful efforts to address pressing local challenges. HACEP’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) initiative – which will revitalize HACEP’s housing portfolio by 2020 – was one-third of the All-America City presentation, with Martinez’s story playing an integral role in the presentation.

Martinez took part in El Paso’s delegation competing for the 2018 All-America City Award presentation, hosted by the National Civic League, which recognizes ten cities each year for outstanding civic accomplishments.

The All-America City Youth Leadership Award was created in memory of the National Civic League’s (NCL) former President John Parr who valued the power and impact of youth leadership. Youth, ages 14 to 25, are nominated all over the country when cities apply for the All-America City Award. Each city that is named a finalist allow the youth to advance to the next level.

During the NCL conference in Denver, nominees are narrowed down to five in which they go through an interview with a panel of judges.

Housing Authority of El Paso Announces Art Contest

The Housing Authority of the City of El Paso, TX (HACEP) officially launches its 8th annual art contest with this year’s theme: The Transformation of El Paso.

HACEP’s annual art contest is open to all resident who reside within the El Paso region, to include the areas of El Paso County. Entry is free and the deadline to enter has been extended till Friday, June 8 to submit their work.

Once complete, the artwork will be displayed in El Paso’s Downtown Public Library. Winners of each category will be announced in mid-June at the HACEP Art Gallery Reception.

The Transformation of El Paso capture’s HACEP’s efforts that is five years underway as well as the great work of other organizations, government entities and private-sector partners to help grow, develop and improve the greater community of El Paso.

As the old adage goes, ‘a picture can say a thousand words,’ HACEP is seeking out artists of any level to participate this year’s art contest to help capture a pivotal moment in El Paso’s history.

“Part of redefining public housing is effectively sharing our transformation,” shares HACEP Chief Executive Officer Gerald Cichon. “The annual art contest gives both our residents and the greater El Paso community an opportunity to be part of this historic transformation.”

The 8th Annual HACEP Art Contest is open to all residents of El Paso County, including students aged 11 years and older. Participants are encouraged to use their imagination and creativity to visually capture this year’s theme in any artistic medium of their choice (e.g. painting, photography, video, sculpture, etc.).

Winners will be selected by an esteemed panel of El Pasoan judges from different disciplines in the art world and announced at a special reception.

Award winners will receive a cash prize, a highlight in the local media, featured online and in HACEP’s newsletter that has a distribution of over 40,000. Please visit the HACEP Website for entry requirements, registration and promotional materials.

This year’s art contest theme ties into HACEP’s current efforts as it continues to lead the nation in the first, largest revitalization effort for affordable housing through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) initiative. Nearly half of the agency’s housing portfolio has undergone a complete transformation across the city of El Paso.

As HACEP sits as the country’s 14th largest housing authority serving over 40,000 El Pasoans – or nearly 6% of the city’s population – a transformation of El Paso’s affordable housing communities managed by HACEP translates into a transformation of many neighborhoods throughout the Sun City.

HACEP Officially Unveils Rebuilt Sherman Plaza

The Housing Authority of the City of El Paso, Texas (HACEP) officially unveiled Sherman Plaza, their $24 Million affordable housing community reconstructed as part of the agency’s larger $1.3 Billion RAD initiative.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Friday, May 11, with representatives from Sundt Construction, the official contractor for the redevelopment, along with Food City Supermarkets – long-time community partner with HACEP – in attendance.

The reconstruction of HACEP’s Sherman Plaza culminated into a $24 million investment in one of El Paso’s oldest neighborhoods was recently designated LEED-certified equipped with Energy-Star appliances, energy-efficient qualities, and central heating and cooling systems.

The event also featured Texas State Senator José Rodríguez, Texas State Representative Cesár Blanco, El Paso County Commissioner David Stout and El Paso City Representative Cissy Lizarraga.

HACEP’s Sherman Plaza Ribbon Cutting Ceremony is part of the City of El Paso’s celebration of Economic Development Week 2018

Housing Authority Receives National Award for Distinguished Budget

The Housing Authority of the City of El Paso, TX (HACEP) received national recognition for its 2017 fiscal year budget. The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) officially announced that HACEP received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award.

“The intricacies of managing any housing authority’s budget is a very arduous and complicate process,” shares HACEP Chief Executive Officer Gerald W. Cichon. “And when you take into consideration the portfolio-wide conversion and revitalization effort we are taking on, this national award exemplifies how hard our financial team is working to ensure our fiscal responsibility to the tax payer is held to highest standard possible.”

This marks the fourth year the agency has received this national honor, which is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental budgeting.

This significant  accomplishment was made possible by the HACEP Financial Management Team, who was also presented with a GFOA Certificate of Recognition for Budget Presentation.

To receive the award, HACEP had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for an effective budget presentation. The agency rated “proficient,” the highest rating, in all four areas that a budget should function as for any entity: a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide and a communications device.

There are 14 criteria in each category used to measure the effectiveness and competency of the budget.

“We began competing for this award four years ago with our 2014 budget and so far we are undefeated,” states interim CFO Hanna Sarah. “Every year we become better at what we do – providing better housing, becoming more efficient, and ensuring our financial accountability to the tax payers.”

HACEP’s Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Burt Blacksher presented the national award to interim CFO Hanna Sarah and Senior Finance Manager Galaxie Rodriguez, who helped lead the team on producing the award-winning budget presentation.

Six Families Get A Better Night’s Sleep This Holiday Season

A holiday wish for one family turned into a blessing for five additional families as the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso, TX (HACEP) called on the support of El Paso’s Mattress Firm to bring a better night’s sleep to each household.

On Friday, Mattress Firm donated a total of 11 mattresses to six families across three HACEP communities who fell on exceptionally difficult times this holiday season. Each family, for various reasons, found themselves in need of this basic necessity that if not for the partnership between Mattress Firm and HACEP would have gone unmet or unnoticed.

“Our standard at the Housing Authority is to provide our families with a safe, clean and affordable place to call home in their time of need,” shares HACEP Chief Executive Officer Gerald Cichon. “However, even something as simple and basic like a mattress would be for any other family can be a challenge for one of our families. So we are incredibly thankful to Mattress Firm for this new partnership as they help us provide the very basic necessities for those who need it the most.”

Every year, HACEP is given the opportunity to go the extra mile by assisting families who receive affordable housing with any necessities they may lack through an annual ‘holiday giving’ initiative, “Operation Noel.”

Employees and departments of HACEP get to “adopt-a-family” by purchasing gifts that the family may request through an application. In an effort to provide a mattress to one family, the Housing Choice Voucher Department (or Section 8) called on El Paso/New Mexico’s Mattress Firm to see if they would be able to donate one to a family in need.

The response from Mattress Firm: “How many more can we donate?”

This one simple question turned into an effort of looking through all the families who were selected as beneficiaries of “Operation Noel” to see who else needed mattresses.

The result: 11 mattresses (5 queen, 5 twin and one full) will be donated to a total of six families. In one case, a 15-year old female only had an air-mattress until it popped several weeks ago. In another case, an elderly couple did not have the financial resources to replace their current mattress which was both too small and not conducive to their physical health.

“Save Monday. Sleep Happy. It’s a simple motto we live by at Mattress Firm, but it can mean especially more to those who need it the most,” states El Paso/New Mexico Mattress Firm Vice-President Dan Longoria. “When we received that call from HACEP about the need for one mattress, we immediately knew there were other families who lacked this very basic necessity. We know that six families is just a drop in the bucket but it is definitely a start to a partnership to help many more families in the future.”

The majority of the families reside in northeast El Paso at HACEP’s Eisenhower Community. As part of this effort, District #4 City Representative Sam Morgan will be donating his time to help deliver the mattresses to the families who reside in District #4.

“I was thrilled to learn of Mattress Firm’s initiative when they answered that call,” shares City District #4 Representative Sam Morgan. “That is what the holiday season is all about – answering the call to serve your community when they need it the most.”

Mayor Oscar Leeser Appoints New Resident Commissioner to Housing Authority Board

Elizabeth Navarro, a resident of HACEP’s Marmolejo Community in the Mission Valley, was appointed to the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso, TX (HACEP) Board of Commissioners serving as the Resident Commissioner.

Mayor Oscar Leeser also reappointed Eileen Karlsruher, co-owner and Executive Vice President of Karlsruher, Inc. and co-owner and President of CSA Design Group Inc. and Anna Louise Valdez Perez, an Educational Consultant with Innovative Enterprise Educational Consulting.

El Paso’s Mayor Oscar Leeser is responsible for the appointment of each of the five commissioners that govern HACEP. Commissioner’s Karlsruher and Perez, who joined the HACEP Board in 2015, will serve another two-year term.

Resident Commissioner Navarro will begin her first two-year term, succeeding Resident Commissioner Guadalupe “Lupita”Licerio served since 2011. All three commissioners were sworn in this morning at City Hall.

Newly appointed Resident Commissioner Navarro is currently a resident of the Marmolejo Community, and is also an administrative assistant for a local company and an active volunteer for the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence.

In this capacity, Commissioner Navarro will serve as the official representative of all residents living or participating in an affordable housing program operated by the nation’s 14th largest housing authority.

Newly appointed HACEP Resident Commissioner Elizabeth Navarro
Newly appointed HACEP Resident Commissioner Elizabeth Navarro

Resident Navarro was born and raised in El Paso, TX where she received her GED from Ysleta High School, and her dental assistance license in 2010 from Kaplan College, and is a proud mother of her eight year old son. When asked what her passion is, her reply is captured in one word – children.

“Our children are the key to our future,” states HACEP Resident Commissioner Elizabeth Navarro. “The work that HACEP is doing to improve our communities will allow children to enjoy the benefits, hard work and investment that is being done. I want to make sure these improvements continue to move forward with the residents and children in mind.”

Resident Navarro, who is in the process of going through the RAD initiative herself, is temporarily located at the North Tays Community while her original community, the second phase of the Marmolejo Community, under goes complete revitalization. S

he shares that the RAD initiative was a new concept for residents, but brings much excitement for the future paving way for many other opportunities for HACEP residents.

After the swear in, Resident Navarro replied with a simple statement, “This is my cup of tea.”

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