From Harford Councilman Mike Perrone, Jr.:
Revitalizing a Community: Windsor Valley Apartments
Located in Edgewood, there is a place people call home – Windsor Valley Apartments. Windsor Valley consists of three sections of apartments and townhome apartments, built in the 1970s.
It has 574 units available for rent. In 2002, the third section of Windsor Valley was renovated, but the remaining two sections waited to be completed.
All of this is currently changing and they are undergoing extensive renovation. The Wishrock Investment Group, a Portland, ME and Missoula, MT based company, has purchased the properties and has made plans to renovate each unit inside and out in the two sections.
Wishrock specializes in keeping housing affordable for low and moderate income families. The company purchases properties in need, renovates them, provides a professional management team, security and develops service projects for the community. The aim is to increase the quality of life for the residents.
In order to meet these goals, Bryan Shumway, the Director of Development for Wishrock, has met with current residents of Windsor Valley to determine their needs and desires for the renovations.
One example of Wishrock’s responsiveness is their early efforts to clear an area of woods next to the property that had become a haven for illicit activity. Working with the County and the neighboring property owner, Wishrock organized a clearing that has dramatically improved safety for residents and their visitors. Another example is a revision to the standard management procedures plan to allow residents to decorate their windows and doors (especially around holiday times) because residents said these decorations made their apartments feel more like “home”.
Inside renovation of each unit includes a total kitchen replacement and reconfiguration, repair and painting of the walls, floors and replacement and upgrades to the bathrooms. On the outside Wishrock will be completing exterior renovations to include new siding, doors and windows. Each unit will be energy efficient and the entire complex has been accepted into the Enterprise Green Community program and will receive a designation when it is completed. This means the community as a whole has plans to conserve resources by utilizing such items as low flow faucets and toilets, energy efficient appliances and energy efficient lighting. Overall the goal is to improve the health and well-being of both the residents and the surrounding community and reduce energy consumption by twenty percent.
Throughout the community there will be new landscaping and replacement of playgrounds to improve the overall appearance. A new feature already in place is monitored security cameras where there is the capability for the person monitoring the system to speak through a speaker system to people in the community. This is in addition to an entirely new security team.
Another important feature is having a community where the handicapped can have a place to call home. Wishrock is addressing this need. When renovations are completed there will be 15 handicapped accessible apartments available. In addition to these units, there will be 15 additional units set aside for the non-elderly disabled population. These apartments represent a significant commitment to help meet an otherwise unmet need for housing.
There is a new on-site management team, which includes available 24 hours a day maintenance.
Currently part of this team’s responsibility involves organizing and assisting residents with relocation. As a building’s renovation is completed, current residents will be moved into the new units. The community will provide moving materials and movers to assist with the move. Residents will be expected to pack up their own belongings, but the rest of the process is handled by the management team.
The management office will also be coordinating service projects for the community. Some of these planned future projects include financial planning classes, food and clothing drives and a Senior Network, where seniors will get together for fun activities. There are plans for community gardens where residents will be able to plant fruits and vegetables for their personal use.
One current project is a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Harford County. They offer an afterschool program for the residents, where currently more than 75 children are enrolled. The Boys and Girls Club plans offers a summer program to the residents.
The overall goal of this renovation is to improve the quality of life for all Windsor Valley residents and the surrounding communities. Wishrock wants to make sure residents have a home and community they are proud to call home and share with friends and family.
Renovation is currently underway in the first building and should be finished in mid-March 2015. The renovation of the last building is expected to be completed in March 2016.
Council Office Contact Information
Office Phone: 410-638-3521
Cell Phone: 443-752-2598
Come talk to me the Second Sunday of each month at Joppatowne Flea Market from 2 pm to 4 pm.
Office Phone: 410-638-4109 x1813
Digging Out of Debt: Building the Budget
For the past month you have been tracking the money you spend. You should know how and where you spend it. Now it is time to look at how and where the money comes into the house.
You can receive an income through a job, interest on bank accounts, cash assistance from the government, alimony, child support and many other sources. You need to determine how often the money comes into the house. Do you receive it monthly, every two weeks, every week, or just once in a while? The next step is to use a calendar and mark down the actual dates you will see the money come into the house, the dates your bills are due, and the dates you will be paying them. Use a different color for each of these entries.
This will visually let you see the income and outgo of your money. Knowing when the money arrives and bill due dates let you know when to pay each of your bills so the payment can arrive on time and prevent you any late fees.
The next step in building a budget is to add up how much you are spending per month in each of your budget categories and then total how much income comes into your household. Then you subtract the expenses from the income.
Hopefully you have money left over at the end of the month. If not, we will learn how to handle this situation in a future Digging Out of Debt (DOD) column.
Your homework assignment this month is to complete your budget and your budget calendar. Don’t worry if the numbers do not add up at this point in time, we will work on how to adjust the budget in the next column. Also, please know it can take three to six months to develop a budget which works well for the family.
Joppatowne High School News
Joppatowne High School senior Austin Kocsan has been accepted into the United States Naval Academy. Austin is a grade 12 Honors student and Scholar athlete with the Homeland Security Emergency Preparedness, a signature program at Joppatowne. He will begin the introductory program with the US Naval Academy in Annapolis in July.
Employment Resource Day and Expo
The Aberdeen Proving Ground Army Community Services (ACS) Employment Readiness Program is hosting an Employment Resource Day and Expo on March 4, 2015. The hours for the event are 11 am to 2 pm and it will be held in the APG Recreation Center. As of January 21st there were 46 confirmed companies and organizations attending this expo. Companies and organizations such as CACI International, Inc., Department of Justice, Social Community Administration, Beacon Staffing Alternatives and various law enforcement organizations are planning on being there.
Since the Employment Resource Day & Expo is being held on the Aberdeen Proving Ground you will need a driver’s license or other photo id, vehicle registration, and proof of auto insurance. You will also need the name of the building for base entrance. Expo attendees should wear business attire and bring plenty of resumes to distribute!
For more information please contact the ACS Employment Readiness Manager at 410-278-9669 or 410-278-7572.
NEA’s Read Across America Day
Students in Harford County will join millions of other students across the country to celebrate the 16th annual National Education Association’s (NEA) Read Across America Day on Monday, March 2, 2015
NEA’s Read Across America Day, celebrates Dr. Seuss’s birthday and the joys of reading, and expects more than 45 million readers, both young and old, to pick up a book and read. This year the featured Dr. Seuss book is Oh the Places You’ll Go! Local schools will celebrate the day with ReadIns, Singing Happy Birthday to Dr. Seuss and many other activities which promote a lifelong love of reading. If you are available this day, call your local school to see if they are participating in this program and see how you can help make this program a success.
The overall goal is to show America’s children the joy of reading and build a nation of readers on March 2nd and every day of the year. For more information on NEA’s Read Across America, visit their website at www.readacrossamerica.org and learn of other reading celebrations happening from coast to coast.
Spotlight’s on: Harford County Community Mediation Program
Harford County residents have a wonderful tool at their disposal to help resolve many types of disputes – the Harford County Community Mediation Program (HCCMP).
Mediation is a voluntary, confidential alternative for parties involved in a dispute. Trained mediators guide parties through an informal process that helps those involved to identify the issues and generate their own resolutions. The goal is to assist parties in developing win-win solutions. Mediators are neutral and do not take sides or tell you what to do.
The types of disputes the program can mediate include neighborhood conflicts (noise, property, community or animal issues), interpersonal issues (parent/teen conflicts, siblings, friends and guardianship), business disputes (employee/employer, owner/customer), and landlord/tenant (HOAs, neighborhood conflicts). HCCMP does NOT mediate divorces, custody disputes or domestic violence; those types of disputes are referred to other agencies for help.
Why would a person try mediation? It is because mediation has so many benefits for the involved parties. It saves time. Once a call is made to HCCMP, a session usually can usually be scheduled within a week. It saves money. Attorney fees and court costs can be avoided. You can avoid future conflicts. Participants learn skills for avoiding future disagreements. There is no penalty for trying mediation first. If mediation does not work, you may pursue other though options such as the court system or law enforcement.
The HCCMP program is a FREE service offered to the citizens of Harford County. Mediators are trained community volunteers who are available at any stage of a conflict. Referrals to the program can come from courts, police, civic groups, community organizations, government agencies, friends and family. Some of the most important things the HCCMP does are outreach in the community, providing education about conflict management and providing training for volunteer mediators.
Mediators begin 50 hours of in classroom training in January. If you are interested in volunteering and can commit to one year of volunteer mediating, please contact HCCMP at www.harfordmediation.org.