Horizon Village: The new face of public housing
It has pastel-colored homes designed with a Lowcountry look. It has preserved wetlands and open green spaces. Its pedestrian-friendly layout includes sidewalks.
And its a place people will be happy to come home to, said George Saldana, executive director of the North Charleston Housing Authority.
This is Horizon Village, a 66-acre public housing development off lower Rivers Avenue, near the former Navy base in North Charleston.
As decades-old public housing crumbles and becomes too costly to renovate, newer, more aesthetically pleasing developments such as Horizon Village have become a national trend.
However, with the Bush administrations 2007 federal budget calling for the elimination of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Hope VI program, a major funding source for Horizon Village, gathering the finances for affordable housing communities could become more of a challenge, Saldana said.
Nevertheless, it is the housing authority mission to keep up the affordable housing fight in the city. Horizon Village is its crowning achievement, Saldana said.
As North Charleston changes, the housing authority has to be there to meet the housing demand, Saldana said.
Begun two years ago and slated for completion this October, Horizon Village replaces North Park Village, a 524-unit, World War II-era community of small, redbrick homes.
During the war, North Park Village housed Navy base workers. In the 1960s, by which time the workers had moved out of the community and into more upscale homes, North Park Village deteriorated into a shabby, barbed-wire eyesore devoted strictly to public housing. The median household income was about $8,000 a year, Saldana said.
In 2005, the city demolished North Park Village to make way for the 484-unit Horizon Village. Only 126 Horizon Village units are earmarked for public housing. The rest will be 124 affordable apartments, with monthly rents not exceeding $600; 130 houses, some to be sold at market value; and 104 housing units in two buildings for the elderly and people with disabilities.
Among Horizon Villages residents will be some former North Park Village residents who were relocated to other North Charleston housing communities. Many of North Parks relocated families have grown used to their new communities and prefer to stay where they are, Saldana said.
Horizon Villages affordable housing serves families with an average household income of about $36,000 a year, Saldana said.
To qualify for Horizon Villages public housing units, applicants must either enroll in a job-training program, be in school or hold a job of some sort to show they intend to become self-sufficient and not make public housing a permanent way of life, Saldana said.
Funding for the $98 million development came from HUD, Federal Housing Administration loans, tax credits and a $1.7 million grant from the city of North Charleston, Saldana said.
Silver Spring, Md.-based architectural firm Torti Gallas and Partners, whose portfolio includes urban housing developments across the nation, designed Horizon Village. Ambling Construction Co. of Valdosta, Ga., is the general contractor. Mount Pleasant-based Thomas & Hutton Engineering is the project’s civil engineering firm.
By Dennis Quick Senior Staff Writer
Dennis Quick is senior staff writer for the Business Journal