DOD Award Winners Provide Affordable Housing in High-Need Areas

Published by Caroline Gallegos on Tuesday, October 6, 2020
Journal Cover October Thumb 2020

From the preservation of Section 8 housing to providing stable housing for homeless individuals and veterans, the five winners of the 2020 Novogradac Journal of Tax Credits Developments of Distinction (DOD) Awards exhibit the breadth of affordable housing impact on local communities.

Awards are given in five categories: preservation of existing affordable rental housing, family housing, rural community impact, metropolitan community impact and special needs population.

The 2020 awardees have funded transactions that closed between June 2019 and June 2020.

The following are the winners in the five categories:

Metropolitan Community Impact: The Eastman Reserve

The Eastman Reserve is a mixed-income, mixed-use complex in Rochester, N.Y., that includes 187 affordable apartments. The development is adjacent to the industrial Eastman Business Park and is part of a larger plan to revitalize and transform the surrounding community into a safe, sustainable residential area that connects itself to existing amenities, including employment opportunities, trails and parks.

The development will serve a wide range of individuals and families, including those with special needs and includes market-rate apartments. The development has 15 percent of the apartments as set-asides. In order to make transformative community impact in a qualified census tract, developer PathStone used a variety of sources to pay for soft costs and construction costs.

“What was seen as a pioneering effort prior to breaking ground now is recognized as a transformative property that is in incredibly high demand,” said Robert Cain, senior real estate developer for PathStone Corporation. “The varying housing product types, rent tiers and amenities are attracting a wide range of residents and causing positive housing externalities in the area. It’s been a tremendous boon to the community.”

Rural Community Impact: Desert Properties

Desert Properties in Tonopah, Nev., was built in 1982 and had extreme deferred maintenance before rehabilitation. The development serves households with incomes at or below 50 percent of the area median income (AMI). Nevada Rural Housing Authority aimed to address capital items to bring the property up to modern standards, increase the energy efficiency and preserve and extend the affordability.

According to the American Community Survey, up to 42 percent of northern Nye County residents are rent overburdened. The rehabilitation of Desert Properties will prolong the life of these valuable apartments and will renew the United States Department of Agriculture-Rural Development subsidy to allow the developments to serve the most at-risk and lowest income residents in Tonopah for an additional 50 years. Financing for the rehabilitation included nine sources.

“Mission-led is an attribute our organization takes to heart,” said Bill Brewer, executive director at Nevada Rural Housing Authority, the developer for Desert Properties. “Everyone deserves the opportunity to live in safe, clean and affordable housing, and the Desert Properties rehab project in Tonopah allowed us to put our mission into action and deliver a beautiful and refreshed community. We faced and overcame some truly unprecedented challenges, all in the name of those we serve.”

Preservation of Existing Affordable Rental Housing: Standard Communities Illinois Section 8 Portfolio

The acquisition, renovation and preservation of the Standard Communities Illinois Section 8 Portfolio will provide long-term affordable housing for seniors in Chicago. The development expands and preserves the affordability of 855 apartments, 80 percent of which are designated for seniors. Standard Communities worked with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Illinois Housing Development Authority and the Chicago Housing Authority to gather more than $200 million in capital.

Properties in the Illinois Section 8 portfolio had not seen significant investment in more than 20 years and residents struggled to feel connected to the communities they had been a part of for so long. Each apartment received more than $50,000 in renovations and 150 apartments were renovated to allow for increased accessibility to residents with disabilities or hearing and visual impairments.

“We are extremely proud that in addition to preserving the affordability of these 855 apartments, we were also able to expand the total rental subsidy and reduce the rent burden for a significant proportion of the residents,” said Robert Koerner, chief investment officer of Standard Communities. “Our use of innovative financial structuring and strong public-private partnerships have proven invaluable when trying to address the challenges associated with providing affordable housing in high-cost and high-opportunity locations.”

Family Housing: Encanto Village

Encanto Village is part of the larger revitalization of the Encanto neighborhood in San Diego.

In 2015, San Diego established the Encanto Neighborhoods Community Plan to help guide growth and development by focusing on high-quality, high-density developments near major transit services to promote community revitalization.

The development will provide 65 affordable apartment homes for individuals and families earning between 30 and 60 percent of the AMI. Eight apartments will be set aside for formerly homeless veterans and their families. There is on-site case management provided by the Veteran’s Administration as well as a community center for resident services and events.

“National CORE is honored to receive the Novogradac Development of Distinction Award,” said Steve PonTell, president and CEO of National CORE, developer for Encanto Village. “Encanto Village is a testament to the vision set by the city of San Diego and its aspirations for the future in the areas of housing, mobility, opportunities and infrastructure.”

Special Needs Populations: Paca House

The redevelopment and expansion of Paca House in downtown Baltimore converted single-room occupancy apartments with no kitchens and bathrooms into 92 fully furnished apartments. The apartments provide permanent supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness and for veterans. Baltimore has approximately 2,500 people experiencing homelessness on any given night and the permanent housing that Paca House will provide will help create housing stability for residents.

The development has 10 apartments reserved for residents with Veteran’s Affairs supportive housing vouchers. The redevelopment received $15.2 million in low-income housing tax credit equity. Paca House developers–Somerset Development Company, with New Community Partners and Volunteers of America Chesapeake and the Carolinas (VOACC)–expressed gratitude to Maryland CDA, The Weinberg Foundation, Volunteers of America National, Home Depot, Local Initiatives Support Corporation and Fulton Bank through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh.

“When VOAC approached Somerset about redeveloping Paca House to create permanent supportive housing for veterans and others experiencing homelessness and converting the single room occupancy units to efficiencies and one bedrooms, we didn’t hesitate,” said Bill Whitman, development partner with New Community Partners and Somerset Development Company. “You don’t have to look very far from Paca House to see the enormous need for housing and wraparound services for veterans experiencing homelessness in Baltimore [It was] a pleasure to work with such an expert team, including Kann Partners and Waldon Studios, Harkins Builders, Boston Financial, Capital One and other critical funding sources.”