SHA Central Administrative Offices
SHA friends gather for breakfast and networking
A hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, home fries and more greeted some 75 friends of the Springfield Housing Authority at the first ‘Casual Friday’ event whose highlight was an overview of the state of the state’s second-largest public housing provider.
The event, sponsored by TD Bank, was held on a November Friday morning on the top floor of La Quinta Restaurant in downtown Springfield. It was a chance to connect with agency friends and share the good news about the SHA, an effort led by Executive Director William H. Abrashkin.
“Our job is to provide safety and security and to open opportunity to our residents,” Abrashkin told the morning crowd.
“A lot of our residents have had some pretty tough sledding. We operate under the philosophy that they have a right to security, peace, and to have neighbors who obey the rules,” he added.
Abrashkin gave an overview of the authority that included specifics that show the SHA is the second-largest public housing agency in the state, and it has:
- 5,500 units of housing, about half of them rental subsidies and the other SHA-owned units for families, elderly and people with disabilities.
- A $35 million annual budget
- 150 employees
- Work for many contractors from the area and beyond.
- A strong security program that ensures residents live within the boundaries of the rules and regulations, and that safe living is the priority.
- Residential programs that focus on living well and in place for seniors, and literacy, education and job training for children and families.
Abrashkin put the focus on a few specifics, including the Alternatives to Violence Program, for which some two dozen SHA staff members are in training, adult education and job training programs, and Talk/Read/Succeed!, the family-based literacy program in its sixth year at Robinson Gardens and Sullivan Apartments.
“Early education and literacy efforts are not rocket science,” Abrashkin said. “Who would have thought that children who are treated well and brought up with kindness grow up better.”
All SHA programs essentially have the shared goal of keeping Springfield strong and healthy.
He pointed to one newly created program for those with rental vouchers – Participant Services, which includes a Homeownership Program to guide renters through the process of buying homes. SHA leads the state for rental voucher participants who are now homeowners, all of them in Springfield.
“A strong community is made stronger with more homeownership,” Abrashkin said. “We have the biggest Section 8 homeownership program in the state. Our focus is to assist our residents to homeownership properties in neighborhoods that are safe, and that have good services such as access to good schools.”
Among those at the breakfast were state Senator James Welch, and state Representatives Carlos Gonzalez and Jose Tosado.
Master of Ceremonies was Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni also had praise for the housing agency that has experienced a turnaround in recent years in terms of safety, programs and integrity.
“SHA is such an important part of the community,” Gulluni said. “I work to engage with the community and to work with the core causes of crime. When you think about what SHA was 15 years ago – saturated with corruption – and to see today what they’re doing with the elderly, with families and with children, it’s just very impressive and so community oriented.”
He gave credit for part of the turnaround to Abrashkin, a former Housing Court judge who is known for his oratorical skills, organization and ethics both personal and professional. He has been on the job at SHA since 2009.
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