Tony Swan believes the abundance of vacant rental units and out-of-work residents in North Hills presents a perfect testing ground for new Mayor Richard Riordan to demonstrate how government agencies can combine to rejuvenate a community.
As president of the North Hills Community Coordinating Council, a nonprofit coalition of business and residents, Swan would like to see Riordan introduce a jobs program to rehabilitate existing rental housing in North Hills.
"We have thousands of units that are vacant at the existing time. We have one of the highest unemployment rates in the Valley," Swan said. "There are a lot of people who live in (nearby) units who have talent. We should be using these people to be doing carpentry repair, plastering, anything to be done in repairing the units.
"That's instant employment, and with employment people can afford to pay the rent."
Funding such a program would require creativity and brass, according to Swan. He believes the new mayor could work with the City Council to loosen funds now held by the city's Community Redevelopment Agency, which funds housing and office developments in 17 areas of the city.
In addition, Swan said he believes that the Clinton Administration might be willing to identify the area as one of the proposed enterprise zones, opening up more funding. "(Riordan) already says he wants to combine all these various resources in housing," Swan said.