Hisle Park Apartments scheduled to open in December

Ian Hillman, Staff Reporter

Named after Portsmouth native and baseball legend Larry Hisle, the Hisle Park Apartments are scheduled to open in December, offering homes for young people (18+) entering adulthood and leaving foster care in the city of Portsmouth. The complex is located at 2237 Thomas Avenue, and representatives of the Portsmouth Metropolitan Housing Authority (PMHA) said it felt only right to name it after Larry Hisle, whose name is also attached to a local park near the apartments. (For more on Hisle and his work with young people, see separate story.)

The Chronicle recently spoke with Peggy Rice, the executive director of PMHA, to get a better understanding of how the project came together and why it’s important for the community. (For more details on the planning, funding and resources associated with the complex, see separate story.)

“Education and opportunity is the foundation of this project,” Rice said, noting that a staggering 75-80 percent of children raised in foster care do not graduate high school. Rice said that she hopes these apartments can give the young adults who will be living there a chance to get back on their feet. The apartment complex includes 25 apartments designed for one occupant, 17 designed for two occupants and three designed for three occupants to ensure that residents with children have a comfortable place to live.

Rice said that anyone aging out of the foster care program is eligible to apply as long as they are 18 or older. Selecting residents, however, is not so easy. Rice said that everyone coming into adulthood through foster care deserves a safe place to live and opportunities to thrive, but the apartment complex is not large enough to house all potential applicants. Rice said that “whoever is most in need” will be accepted first, and as the project progresses, selection will become more guided and specific.

Rice sees the future of the Hisle Park apartments as a place where young adults can live, learn and further their education while taking advantage of opportunities to have a successful and happy life. After obtaining everything they can from the experience, some may leave to further their lives, making room for more young adults leaving foster care to move into the complex.

“No one is going to be forced out to make room for others,” Rice said, but naturally some will stay and others will go over time, creating space for new applicants to take advantage of the opportunities they previously never had.

This project was very important to Rice personally.

“You can either have a job, or you can have a mission,” she said. She sees this project as a mission to help the youth, those most in need in our community here in Portsmouth. “We can either be a part of the solution, or part of the problem.”

She and other people involved in the development of Hisle Park Apartments aim to make the complex a meaningful part of the solution.