New Parkridge: Interview with Avalon’s TaLasha MooreBy: Avalon Housing
Parkridge Homes, Ypsilanti’s first public housing project, was built in 1943 to house African Americans who worked at the Willow Run Bomber Plant. Parkridge was designed by Hilyard Robinson, a prominent African American architect-engineer, who was involved in public housing projects throughout the country. In 2018, the New Parkridge development opened. New Parkridge’s 86 two-family and duplex housing units were developed by the Ypsilanti Housing Commission and Chesapeake Community Advisors. New Parkridge features a community building with a kitchen, computer lab and offices named for Amos Washington, the first black city councilmember and director of the Ypsilanti Housing Commission. Eastern Michigan University’s Family Empowerment Program (FEP) and Avalon collaborate to provide on-site supports to residents.
TaLasha Moore, Avalon Support Coordinator, provides case management for 20 families at New Parkridge. Recently I sat down with her to learn more about her work and the New Parkridge community.
What do you want people to know about New Parkridge?
This is NEW Parkridge. This is a new atmosphere and culture. We’re bringing about change in this community.
Tell me about the people you work with and the services you offer.
New Parkridge has a mix of people of various income levels, from market-rate renters to low-income and supportive housing residents. Avalon supports 20 households at Parkridge. Seven of these are single-adult households, and the rest are families with young children, most headed by single women. So we have a lot of young moms who need support services.
As a Support Coordinator, I provide a range of services to these families, including transportation and coordination of health care appointments and benefits with our clients’ health providers, like BlueCare Complete and Medicaid. Since some of our residents have experienced domestic violence, I coordinate with SAFE House to get them the help they need. I also work as a mediator between our clients and their landlord, the Ypsilanti Housing Commission. My role involves checking in with people to see how they’re doing, and inviting people to come to our office and visit me just to talk about what’s happening in their lives.
I advocate for my clients in situations involving Child Protective Services and law enforcement. Local police have been good – they’re really responsive when I call them. They’re also working on building and maintaining relationships in the Parkridge community. Each year they attend YHC’s summer block party, where they hang out and eat with us and let kids see their patrol cars. They’re trying to build a bridge to this community.
What do you like best about working here?
I love the camaraderie, working here with YHC, KMG (the property manager) and EMU’s FEP. We have different ways of doing things, but we’re working more closely as a unified team. I love seeing all the families, watching the kids running up and down these streets when they come out of school. The best part of my job is being able to mentor young moms. It’s a partnership – they learn from me, and I learn from them. I also love that I can be me here; I’m able to have an open dialogue and be honest with our clients. I really believe in being transparent. Even as I’m advocating for my clients, I’m clear with them about what the rules are. If I have to call Child Protective Services, or I know my client is going to be served a lease violation, I let them know upfront what they can expect. I also work closely with clients to rectify issues and help them become more proactive to avoid future violations.
I also love this beautiful property and these beautiful homes. New Parkridge is a place we can all take pride in.
What’s your vision for New Parkridge? What programs would you like to offer in this community?
I’m working on setting regular office hours for case management, so that I can be more accessible. Eventually I’d like to see people here take advantage of our supported employment program.
I’d also like to build programs to support young families, whether it’s just a space for moms to gather and talk to each other, or parenting workshops, or movie nights, or having visiting speakers or poetry slams. I think these activities would break down some of the barriers that exist between neighbors and help build trust among people.
What else should people know about New Parkridge?
We have a brand-new community center with meeting space and a kitchen that’s available for Avalon’s use. It’s large enough for an Avalon board meeting, and staff are welcome to use the space for committee meetings.
Any final thoughts?
This place is a breath of fresh air. The people who live here can see themselves in the management staff here. Their property manager, their case manager and their program director look like them. That’s powerful. That can help set people on a different path in life.