There was an unusually high amount of excitement and anticipation that was felt in the air by the staff and partners of the Housing Authority of Bowling Green (HABG) as several dozen local area leaders and residents came together for HUD Southeast Regional Administrator Denise Cleveland-Leggett's announcement recognizing the HABG as one of only seventeen housing authorities recognized nationally as an EnVision Center in the first round. One of U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson's signature initiatives, EnVision Centers will offer HUD-assisted families access to support services that can help them achieve self-sufficiency, thereby making scarce federal resources more readily available to a greater number of households currently waiting to receive HUD assistance.
The culmination of decades of success on the part of HABG and their partners were showcased during the event when current and former residents also shared stories of how the housing authority helped them gain employment, reach educational goals, and even buy a home.
"Growing up here was amazing," said HABG Student of the Year Jasmine Varner. "I was repeatedly told that my life didn't have to end here at these apartments…I even got to go to China and experience another culture all because of the housing authority."
Jasmine has been accepted into the University of Louisville and will start this fall. She speaks three languages, is a gifted musician, and is a two-time state track champion. HUD Southeast Regional Administrator Denise Cleveland-Leggett spoke about how impressed she was after her first visit to the Housing Authority of Bowling Green when she saw the classes, job programs, community garden, wood shop, and other self-sufficiency programs. "The Housing Authority of Bowling Green under the direction of Abraham Williams has done extraordinary things," said Cleveland-Leggett. "He's changing people's lives in ways that are unimaginable."
Following the presentations, the crowd gathered outside where the Learning Center was formally renamed the EnVision Center.
EnVision Centers will offer HUD-assisted families access to support services that can help them achieve self-sufficiency, thereby making scarce federal resources more readily available to a greater number of households currently waiting to receive HUD assistance. Located on or near public housing developments, EnVision Centers will be centralized hubs that serve as an incubator to support four key pillars of self-sufficiency — (1) Economic Empowerment, (2) Educational Advancement, (3) Health and Wellness, and (4) Character and Leadership. Through results-driven partnerships with organizations such as: federal agencies, state and local governments, non-profits, faith-based organizations, corporations, public housing authorities, and housing finance agencies, EnVision Centers will leverage public-private partnerships to connect HUD-assisted households with services that offer pathways to self-sufficiency.