Member Spotlight – Innovation: Homes for America Shows how Innovative Financing Created Affordable Homes in a Rural Community
We are pleased to showcase Homes for America (HFA) as the first HAND Membership Spotlight. Its work with the award winning community Cottages and Gardens at Chesapeake in Elkton, Maryland is only one of HFA’s notable accomplishments; however, this innovative rural community has definitely helped transform the affordable housing options in the small town community.
As a developer of affordable rental and homeownership opportunities for low-and moderate-income families in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania, HFA specializes in providing housing options to special needs populations that include needed services to enhance the quality of life for the residents. Additionally, HFA has a sound history of partnering with other nonprofits who work with special needs populations to help the organizations carry out their development goals, and over time increase their capacity to develop or manage affordable rental communities.
In December 2012 HFA opened Cottages and Gardens at Chesapeake, a 98 unit mixed-use development that serves seniors with low-incomes, persons with disabilities and market-rate residents and families. What was particularly innovative about the development was that HFA preserved the affordable housing components by combining three existing adjacent rental communities and putting them under one financing structure. HFA obtained State and Federal approval to maintain existing occupancy restrictions in the special needs affordable apartments while continuing to operate the remaining apartments as general occupancy. Even though these two separate housing options (one affordable and one market-rate) were under one ownership structure and one financing plan, the everyday operations are totally separate.
“The more than 20-year old property now has new life and energy,” said Nancy Rase, president and CEO, HFA. “Before the rehabilitation, there was no community space for the general occupancy housing residents. The new community building has space for activities and programs for children…The creation of the eight new apartments helped in making the community accessible, particularly for the aging seniors.”
During the redevelopment stage, HFA made special structural enhancements that ensured all residents, whether seniors or children, would be comfortable with their new and/or improved homes. Additionally, there were extensive green and energy-saving improvements incorporated during the rehabilitation which has provided substantial savings for the residents and the owner.
The Cottages and Gardens at Chesapeake has won the Charles L. Edson Low Income Housing Tax Credit Coalition Award for Rural Housing and the Affordable Housing Finance Reader’s Choice Award, Best Rural Housing. Yet, despite its great accomplishments, HFA gives HAND credit for helping them keep its ear-to-the-ground on development and financing updates in the region.
“Development is regional in nature, and our HAND membership enables us to be current on what’s happening in a large part of the region, in which we work,” said Rase. “The HAND newsletter ensures that we never miss a major NOFA or funding round in the region. As more and more public agencies post notices on websites in lieu of sending email notices, the HAND information is ever more important and something on which we have come to rely.”
HAND is pleased to spotlight Homes for America, who certainly contribute to our organization’s COLLABORATION, INNOVATION, and TRANSFORMATION!