HUD Secretary Castro joins HACA for Grand Opening of Education and Training Center

Beth PhillipsDigital Inclusion

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The Housing Authority of the City of Austin (HACA) and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro today (Nov. 21) hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for the agency’s new Henry Flores Education and Training Center at Meadowbrook Apartments, 1201 A. W Live Oak St.

“Brainpower is the currency of success in the 21st century global economy. The comprehensive training and resources now available will transform lives and uplift families,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “Equipped with classrooms, a library, an outdoor amphitheater and green space for events, this center will cultivate community and a knowledge-based culture.”

The Flores Center, named in honor of HACA’s former Chairman who retired in 2013 after serving on HACA’s Board of Commissioners for 14 years, will help build resident self-sufficiency and serve as a community learning hub. The building is HACA’s first new construction in two decades.

The 10,000-square-foot, environmentally-conscious facility includes:
• Classrooms for youth and adult education programs
• Community library
• Outdoor amphitheater for cultural and other events
• Community meeting space
• State-of-the-art computer lab for on-site classes and distance learning
• Outdoor green space to foster community and learning
• Video and sound production lab

“This new building is a cornerstone of HACA’s effort to move public housing residents to true self-sufficiency,” said HACA President & CEO Michael Gerber. “Children will have opportunities for after-school programs, a new Boys and Girls Club and other educational programs; adults will have a range of programs from job and skills training to parenting and financial literacy classes.”

In 2011, HACA was awarded $1.74 million in funds through the HUD Capital Fund Education and Training Community Facilities program to support the construction of an innovative learning facility in south Austin.

In addition, Google Fiber contributed a combined donation of $60,000 in support of digital inclusion to Austin Pathways, a nonprofit organization that supports HACA programming. Part of the donation included 25 refurbished desktop systems and 15 refurbished laptop computers.

In addition to the Boys and Girls Club housed onsite at the Flores Center, numerous other community-based partners will provide a range of services for the public housing community:

• Communities in Schools – after-school tutoring
• Austin Community College – adult basic education, GED preparation and ESL
• Any Baby Can – parenting classes
• Austin Free-Net – digital literacy training
• Skillpoint Alliance – science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) youth programs and workforce training
• Goodwill – job-readiness training and job placement assistance.
• Manspring School: Parenting education
• Creative Action – Summer arts program
• Capital Area Food Bank – Summer meals for children
• CommUnity Care – basic health screenings and primary care
• KRLU – Ready to Learn with the Boys and Girls Club
• American YouthWorks – Youth Build Program
• Austin Independent School District – Travis High School monthly parent group and other collaborations with the local schools
• WeViva – adult exercise and nutrition classes