The Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority will conduct a grand opening in the clubhouse at its Village at Arlington at 10 a.m. Feb. 1, Carmelita Douglas, authority director, told the Mahoning County commissioners Thursday.
The 120-apartment village on the city’s North Side replaced the final 218 apartments in the 1938-vintage Westlake Terrace, which were demolished.
The dedication will mark the end of a 15-year effort to replace all of Westlake, which was one of the nation’s first public-housing projects.
Replacement of the first 400 Westlake apartments with new housing in the Arlington Heights community was completed in 2008. That community includes 75 rental apartments, 30 owner-occupied townhouses, a recreation center and a park.
“If you drive by the Westlake neighborhood right now, you will see an entirely new neighborhood,” Douglas told the commissioners.
Douglas also announced the authority last month achieved 100 percent occupancy in its approximately 1,200 apartments. Douglas added she believes this is the first time the authority ever has achieved full occupancy.
She attributed that to hard work by her staff and continuing difficult economic conditions in the Mahoning Valley that have caused more people to turn to public housing.
“Years ago, we had none to very little waiting list, where our waiting list now is approximately 500 to 600” applicants, she said.
Although this month’s government shutdown didn’t force any layoffs at the authority, she noted that four authority staff members were laid off June 28 due to federal sequester budget cuts.
If the authority’s annual budget doesn’t return to a level at or near its pre-sequester level, the authority faces the prospect of additional layoffs, she said. The sequester amounts to about a 5 percent budget cut for public housing.
The authority’s current annual budget is about $22 million, and it does not yet have a budget for next year, Douglas added.