NORFOLK, Va. — Construction is underway to build new mixed-income units for the Tidewater Gardens community.
Kaberlyn Johnson, who used to live at the old Tidewater Gardens apartments, is helping relocated residents know more about what the new housing will look like. She told 13News Now it looks nothing like it did before.
Johnson is helping other residents who were working with People First, the program helping more than 600 Tidewater Gardens residents with utility, rental and employment assistance.
“When you move into this new community, you’re still going to have these great services with People First,” Johnson said.
Norfolk’s Department of Housing and Community Development Director Dr. Susan Perry said the program provides $3 million every year for the families of the neighborhood to assist with supportive services around education, health and wellness and employment.
"We've seen employment rates rise from 47% in the community when we started to 74% today,” Perry said.
Norfolk city leaders asked residents in a survey this year what they would like the apartments to look like and what amenities they want inside.
Another concern residents talked about in the survey is flooding. City leaders believe building a park will reduce flooding.
“So this 26-acre park, resilient park that we are building as part of the redevelopment is going to resolve those flooding issues that are currently experienced today,” Perry said.
Another question that many residents are asking is what will rent look like for these mixed-income units.
“They would not pay anything more than what they paid when they lived in public housing. 30% of their income will go to the rent and the subsidy will pick up the remaining portion,” Perry said.
Johnson hopes people will move back to the new Tidewater Gardens community.
“It’s wonderful, you’re going to love it. I promise,” Johnson said.
Norfolk city officials said they plan to open the first two apartment buildings in the summer of 2023. All the 715 housing units proposed are expected to be completed in September 2025.
The Tidewater Gardens project is part of the city’s ongoing St. Paul’s redevelopment project that includes the Calvert Square and Young Terrace neighborhoods. City officials are working on a timeline for when projects will start in those two communities.