The Lebanon Housing Authority is working on upgrades in some of its low-income public housing in the area.
Under new executive director Patrick Johnson, who took over the job in October, the authority began “experimenting” on some of its apartments in different neighborhoods to better the units.
Johnson said no new units would be added or renovations done, but the units that are already there, some 50 to 60 years old, would be upgraded through ways such as using better materials.
Upgrade examples include changing the paint color and changing from tile floors to hardwood, among countless others.
So far, the LHA is experimenting with four units, two located in Head Homes, one in Inman Court and one in Upton Heights. The Head Homes units are both two bedroom, and the Upton Heights unit is the biggest at four bedrooms. Johnson said the Upton Heights unit was one of the first the authority built, dating back to 1952.
On Thursday, Johnson, board members and Mayor Philip Craighead took a walking tour to showcase the units, stopping at both units in Head Homes and the Upton Heights unit upgrade projects.
Johnson said the authority is using funding it already has to provide the upgrades it is working on so far. He said the decision to upgrade is determined unit-by-unit.
Johnson said the thought process was that if they could upgrade the way of living they could also better the clientele and attract market renters.
“And if we can get market renters then that’s more money for them coming in, and in turn will allow them to do even more upgrades,” Craighead said.
Craighead especially liked the change from tile to hardwood floors.
“It gives it a nicer, more homey feel,” Craighead said. “I’ve got to say, these look good to be 50- to 60-year-old units.”
Johnson said the authority had to “turn” the units anyway – when one tenant moves out and another is set to move in – so the decision was made to try some upgrades to help enhance the unit’s quality of life.
“We so appreciate Patrick coming in and trying to increase the dollars and attract working tenants,” Craighead said. “Since he’s came on, I have heard nothing but praises about him, so I really think the board made the right decision and a great decision in choosing him.”