NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The St. Paul’s Area Transformation has been a decade in the making. Now, Norfolk leaders say it’s just a few years away from becoming reality.

Tuesday morning, city leaders met with Sen. Warner to discuss the progress Urban Strategies made within the first year.

The report spoke to the team’s first priority–the Tidewater Gardens community.

“Even though the first year is really for us trying to establish trust in the community get a baseline metric and losing half the year to a pandemic, they really have been able to accomplish quite a bit,” said Director of St. Paul’s Transformation, Susan Perry.

In the summer of 2019, Norfolk hired Urban Strategies to provide services to residents living in the 3 public housing communities of St.Paul’s–Tidewater Gardens, Calvert Square, and Young Terrace.

Since the contract, USI has been helping residents with everything from relocation to job training.

This big step happened after Norfolk and the NRHA landed a big federal grant.

“I’m proud to work with the city to get over $34 million in federal support but I wanted to make sure as we go through this transformation that the views of the community were included; people will have a right to come back and I also wanted to see what I could do to help,” said Warner.

Through USI’s “People First” initiative, the team has used feedback from community members to create a strategic plan to meet their needs.

When residents first received news of this transformation there was concern about gentrification.

Warner says that was another reason why he wanted a progress update– to make sure poor residents weren’t getting pushed out.

“That’s why I wanted to hear. That residents would have a right to return this is what I wanted to hear, how much community involvement there’s been,” said Senator Warner.

Looking ahead to Year 2, the People First team will continue to focus on education, housing, health, and economic mobility.

The Director of Saint Paul’s Transformation says construction will begin on the first set of buildings in the spring.

Then others will follow a year after.

You can find more information by clicking here.

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