The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority, (CRHA), The Public Housing Association of Residents, (PHAR), Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville, Piedmont Virginia Community College Community Self Sufficiency Programs, (PVCC), and the City of Charlottesville are pleased to announce the hiring of five public housing resident apprentices as part of a unique program to rehabilitate public housing units and train residents for jobs in the construction field.

“We are so excited about this partnership. This isn’t just about rehabilitating units, its about bringing new opportunities to residents so they can achieve their goals,” said Grant Duffield, Executive Director of CRHA.

PHAR was instrumental in shaping the program and in recruiting the resident apprentices.

Joy Johnson, Chair of PHAR’s Board of Directors said “the community benefits from this program in many ways… residents can and should be doing the work to house more families while at the same time they gain valuable skills and thrive as individuals”.

The residents, Takiyah Jones, Yarnelle Carter, Raoul Bissehossolo, Jolene Noelle, and Deirdre Gilmore. – under the supervision of Habitat for Humanity and CRHA project supervisors, will spend the next year fixing up 20 public housing units, learning the construction trades on habitat job sites, and participating in skills training through PVCC.

“I’m motivated, I’m ready to work. I’m looking forward to using the opportunity take my career path in a different direction from where I was going” said Jolene Noelle, one of the program participants as she showed up for her first day on the job.

Councilor Wes Bellamy noted that city leaders have long championed programs and opportunities that seek to help residents of Charlottesville gain needed job skills and training, and were eager for the City to offer grant funding support to this initiative. Councilor Kathy Galvin, who was instrumental in arranging wage funding for the project, shared her accolades for the program. “This incredible partnership puts more affordable housing on line while it puts more marketable skills in the residents’ tool kit. Many thanks to PHAR, CRHA and Habitat for giving Charlottesville a hands-on model for “equitable redevelopment!”

In crafting the scope of the ROTJ project, the partners quickly recognized the need to have additional resources and training readily available to assist the program participants. In addition to getting practical skill-building experiences, apprentices will benefit from wrap-around support facilitated by PVCC’s Network2Work program, as well as the City of Charlottesville Department of Social Services staff and case management services.

“Our goal is to help our neighbors, like these five job-seekers, realize their potential by connecting them both with training and with support services, such as child care, transportation and medical care,” said Ridge Schuyler, dean, community self-sufficiency programs at PVCC.

The partners are hopeful that this program can be replicated at scale to address both local housing and job training challenges.

“We are so pleased to be part of this special partnership”, said Dan Rosensweig President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville. “As with all we do we see this an opportunity not just to provide housing but to help local families achieve the skills to realize their dreams.”