The 4 R’s of Affordable Housing

Renew, Restore, Recycle & Revitalize, the 4 R’s of affordable housing. Many projects that organizations pursue to create affordable housing utilize buildings or communities that are already existing. In these cases, the buildings are being recycled and restored to a new home to be inhabited. Occasionally the buildings have not been lived in for some time and they need restored to a livable standard, which ultimately revitalizes the area in which the house resides. There are many instances of these 4 R’s occurring across the United States and even right here in Frederick, MD.

Binghamton, NY

There was a new 37-unit affordable housing development created. The developer First Ward Action Council was able to restore 11 buildings on the city’s Front Street to a livable standard, plus construct a new mixed-use building with two commercial storefronts along with 10 residential units on the site of the former historic Lincoln Hotel which was destroyed by a fire. A location which was once lively was destroyed, but has not been revitalized to a beautiful new community.

For more information on this development: Binghamton, NY

Denison, TX

Over the past decade, city and community leaders in Denison have pushed to clean up the city and encourage renewal in aging, and blighted portions of the city. There have been multiple agreements for affordable housing projects aimed at revitalizing these neighborhoods. In 2015, Denison earned the 2015 Municipal Excellence Award for its affordable housing program. They have had a successful effort in restoring dilapidated buildings that posed health and public safety risks and recycling empty lots without present owners. Denison created a neighborhood empowerment zone which encompassed the area of town where the majority of these buildings were located and were able to partner with 8 different builders to develop 30 lots in the neighborhood zone and a few outside of it which revitalized the area.

For more information on their award and Denison, TX

Washington, DC.

The DC Department of Housing and Community Development continues to acquire vacant buildings in the district to recycle them into new affordable housing units. Recently, the DHCD solicited five different sites in the Anacostia neighborhood to revitalize these neighborhoods and to assist those in need of affordable housing in the area. The current Mayor Muriel Bowser has focused on affordable housing. Since January 2015, the Bowser Administration has produced and preserved over 3,100 units of affordable housing units in the District with more to come. Her approach is to continue renewing the many vacant properties in the District with almost 3,700 more affordable housing units in the developmental pipeline.

For more information on the Bowser Administration: Washington, DC

Hialeah, Florida

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reports on a 300 Unit Elderly Rental Affordable Housing Project that was created in Hialeah, Florida. The project not only improved the lives of these new tenants but also has directly revitalized the neighborhood and served as a catalyst for economic growth that helped to spur economic development activities and improvements in the entire neighborhood.

For more information on this project: Hialeah, FL

Frederick, MD

Right here in Frederick, MD, Interfaith Housing Alliance is working hard to bring 59 apartments to downtown Frederick at 520 North Market Street. The building has been used as a school and office buildings. Now it will be recycled and restored to a brand new affordable housing apartment community. This well-loved city icon is being transformed into a mixed income housing development right in the heart of downtown Frederick, thus helping revitalize that area.

For more information on 520 North Market: Frederick, MD

The four R’s are helping individuals, families, and seniors around the country! In addition to directly helping the participants, the properties are helping their direct communities and economies. Buildings are being renewed and recycled which helps keep houses from becoming public health and safety concerns. Communities are being revitalized with new people, new funds coming into the economy, and of course helping those in need!

Renew – Restore – Recycle – REVITALIZE! 

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Affordable Housing Myths & Reality

Affordable Housing can be difficult to understand. There are a lot of myths surrounding the topic of affordable housing, however here we hope to dispel some of these myths! Thanks to Affirmed Housing for this great information!Family in Purchase-Repair Homeownership Program

MYTH: Affordable housing will drive down property values.
REALITY: Repeated research has shown that affordable housing has no negative impact on the price or frequency of sales of neighboring homes. A recent study of four very-low-income family housing developments in suburban Chicago – Victorian Park in Streamwood, Liberty Lakes Apartments in Lake Zurich, Waterford Park Apartments in Zion, and Brookhaven Apartments in Gurnee – revealed that affordable housing can have a positive impact on surrounding property values. A Wisconsin study of housing constructed under the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program concluded that property values surrounding these developments rose, even in relatively affluent areas. In addition, mixed-income buildings can boost the residential real estate market in many areas by replacing the blighted buildings that keep real estate values low. Numerous studies over time from around the country support the general notion that affordable housing has no negative impact on surrounding property values— especially if it is thoroughly integrated into the neighborhood.

MYTH: Affordable housing will look like “cheap housing.”
REALITY: Affordable housing must comply with the same building restrictions and design standards as market-rate housing. Builders know that it makes sense to use the same construction techniques and materials for all units in a development. Furthermore, because affordable housing is often funded in part with public money, sometimes it needs to comply with additional restrictions and higher standards than market-rate housing. Groups like the Franciscan Ministries, the Community Housing Association of DuPage, the Lake County Residential Development Corporation (LCRDC) and a number of for-profit housing developers provide strong examples of high-quality affordable housing that blends in with market-rate housing here in the Chicago region. Many developments incorporating affordable units are built as low-rise garden apartments at a scale similar to large houses. Affordable housing is not affordable because it’s built with “sub-quality” materials; it is affordable in the sense that it is less costly to live in because it is supported by additional public and private funds.

MYTH: Affordable housing will bring lots of large families to the community, thereby increasing the burden on schools and roads.
REALITY: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, rental apartments have fewer children per unit on average than owner-occupied, single family housing; rental apartments contain a lower percent of units with one or more school aged children; and rental units have a lower average number of motor vehicles per unit. A Massachusetts study found that multi-family housing Business and Professional People for the Public Interest June 2004 developments did not increase school costs. Although not all multi-family rental units are affordable, they make up the bulk of affordable housing. Affordable housing helps reduce the number of cars on the road by allowing working people to live near their jobs. In addition, studies show that affordable housing residents own fewer cars and drive less often than residents of market-rate homes.

MYTH: Affordable housing will reduce the quality of local schools and hurt standardized test scores.
REALITY: Without affordable housing, many families are forced to move frequently, and their children are unable to remain in the same school for long. A Minneapolis study found that children whose families moved during the course of the school year attended school less often and scored significantly lower on standardized tests than those who stayed in one place. Research on Chicago-area residents reveals that students forced to move around are much more prone to drop out of school. Affordable housing minimizes such disruptions to children’s education. Economic integration of neighborhoods is necessary to create regional school systems in which all schools—not just a few—are excellent. Montgomery County, Maryland, has one of the most extensive ordinances setting aside affordable units in any new residential development, and consequently its population is economically integrated. The county also has one of the nation’s best school systems, proving that affordable housing may even contribute to school quality. Affordable housing also helps schools attract and retain the best teachers. School districts across the country have developed innovative affordable housing programs that recognize that it is important for teachers to put down roots in the communities where they teach, and the federal government’s “Teacher Next Door” program also helps teachers live in the school districts where they teach at a price they can afford.

MYTH: Affordable housing doesn’t contribute to the local tax base and overburdens the local property tax system.
REALITY: Nationwide, the effective tax rate (property tax paid relative to the market value) for multi-family complexes is significantly higher than single-family homes. Thus, multi-family developments pay their “fair share” in local property taxes. A Massachusetts study of 41 towns found that multi-family complexes often generated a profit for local governments. Most cities that have enacted inclusionary zoning ordinances have found that they spur more than enough economic development to keep public finances on a sound footing. Furthermore, as stated above, multi-family housing offers greater efficiency in use of public services and infrastructure. Across the country, municipalities with volunteer fire and ambulance crews have been facing pressure to hire salaried personnel as high housing costs force volunteers to move away. Affordable housing can help these communities retain their volunteers and thus keep public safety expenses down. Business and Professional People for the Public Interest June 2004

MYTH: Affordable housing will increase crime in the community and bring in undesirable residents.
REALITY: Affordable housing can help a community maintain a stable population by making it easier to retain people who already live and work there. There is no evidence that affordable housing brings crime to a neighborhood. In fact, affordable housing, as a tool of economic development, can often help to lower crime rates. The National Crime Prevention Council calls for the construction of affordable housing to reduce crime because “neighborhood cohesion and economic stability are enhanced in areas where the continuing supply of dispersed, affordable housing is assured.” Whether a development will be an asset or a detriment to a community more often turns on basic management practices: careful screening, prudent security measures, and regular upkeep. Most affordable housing residents are seeking safe and decent housing that will allow them to live self sufficient lives in a good community.

MYTH: Affordable housing represents just another government welfare handout.
REALITY: Wealthy homeowners benefit the most from federal housing subsidies. They receive a federal income tax deduction for mortgage interest paid, which is the largest housing subsidy program in the U.S., and a similar deduction for property taxes paid. In 2003, these subsidies cost the federal government $87.8 billion, much of which went to the wealthiest 10% of U.S. taxpayers. Meanwhile, the federal government spent less than half as much ($41.5 billion) to preserve, maintain, and build affordable rental housing through the entirety of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) budget ($38 billion) and the low-income housing tax credit program ($3.5 billion).

MYTH: Affordable housing is not fair; only the very poor benefit.
REALITY: A lack of affordable housing negatively affects employers, seniors, poor people, immigrants, entry-level and service sector workers, and public sector professionals such as teachers, firefighters, and police officers. It also impinges on broader quality of life issues such as the economic development of the region, traffic congestion, commute times, and air quality. In short, it affects us all. Effectively solving the affordable housing crisis does not mean addressing the needs of just the poor; it also means addressing the needs of the business community, working- and middle class families, and the broader population.

 

For more information on the myths and facts about affordable housing, visit here: http://www.affirmedhousing.com/resources/myths.html

Weinberg House Events

This has been an exciting week at the Weinberg House! The Weinberg House is a property owned by IHA which is located in downtown Frederick off Broadway Street. The property  offers 23 one-bedroom apartments serving seniors earning 50% or less of the Area Median Income. This is a wonderful facility that serves an underserved population! This week Legal & General America provided two FANTASTIC events for this community. 

Legal & General America contracted with BrightView to create this beautiful garden for our residents at the Weinberg House! A bench is set to be delivered in the next few weeks for the residents too!

Pictured: LGA Volunteers & BrightView crew (top left), Main garden completed (top right), Front garden bed completed (bottom left), Pre-work front garden (bottom middle), Pre-work main garden (bottom right).

Legal and General America also managed a BINGO event for the residents of Weinberg House that same afternoon. During the event, the residents were provided delicious snacks, goody bags, and had the change to win FANTASTIC prizes! The smiles on each participant’s face was very rewarding and IHA is very appreciative of the generous donations and support from this wonderful organization! 

Pictured: LGA Volunteers, IHA Intern and Residents of Weinberg House.

Live Where You Work

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Sinclair Way in Frederick, MD

Affordable housing can mean different things to each individual. Why do individuals look into affordable housing? Why do they choose a specific area to look for housing? The reasons and benefits are endless, however there is one common thread. That common thread is the ability to ‘Live Where You Work’.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, the average travel time nationwide is 24.3 minutes to work. In Maryland, the average is slightly higher at 29.1 minutes. Approximately 30 minutes or less to work doesn’t sound that bad right? What if you could get even closer? Living where you work would help benefit your personal and professional life. In addition, it would help save these households money on travel, gas, car expenses, etc.

In Frederick County there are many individuals who are unable to afford a house on their current incomes, let alone additional travel costs. There are many households that earn between $25-50,000 a year which is not nearly enough to afford housing in the county that they currently work, found work, or have lived their entire lives. Households earning between $25K and $50K may include the following:
• A nurse in the first three years of his or her career with a child and spouse that works part time as a cashier
• A teacher, firemen or police officer in the first few years of his or her career
• A recent college graduate working at a local bank
• A retired couple living on their combined Social Security payments

Read More about Frederick County Affordable Housing Needs Assessment

Nurses, teachers, firemen, and police officers are valuable careers that benefit each and every individual within the Frederick County community. The individuals are in need of affordable housing opportunities so they can live where they work. The ability to live where you work allows these individuals the ability to contribute to the community, stay late at work, provide additional study hours for children after school, be available for emergencies and much more. Could you imagine if these individuals lived so far away that the additional benefits these individuals typically provide were not available due to their travel time and personal obligations outside of the office?

Bottom line is affordable housing benefits everyone. The ability to ‘Live Where You Work’ benefits the individuals who need it and those who will feel their contributions to society. 

Here at IHA we are determined to continue bringing affordable housing to the Frederick Community. Sinclair Way located in downtown Frederick, MD will soon be leasing which will provide numerous housing opportunities to those in need of affordable housing. 

Judith Achieved Her Dream!

Judith showing us where her dishwasher will be installed.

Judith showing us where her dishwasher will be installed.

Through IHA’s Purchase-Repair Homeownership Program, Judith was able to find the home of her dreams with a monthly mortgage payment that is lower than what she was paying in rent!

Judith’s new cottage-style home has four bedrooms, one of which will become her painting studio. The home, located just north of Thurmont in Frederick County, Maryland, has a large yard filled with mature fruit-bearing, flower-bearing, and evergreen trees, as well as lovely foundation plants that are well established. Despite its rural location (a requirement to obtain the USDA Rural Development low interest, no down payment mortgage) the home is just a mile or two from Route 15, providing an easy commute to her job as a bus driver for Fort Detrick in Frederick.

Judith is ecstatic to finally be able to find the home of her dreams! She knew exactly what she wanted to buy, but it wasn’t as easy as she had hoped. It seemed every time she found a home that qualified under the program and fit her wants and needs, the home was soon under contract to another buyer. However, Judith would not give up, and with the help of her real estate agents, Peggy Magnanelli and Debbi Lewis, with RE/MAX Results, her perseverance paid off.

IHA’s Vice President of Construction and Development, Ron Morris, will be supervising the repair process. The home needs new siding, the hardwood floors need to be refinished, some bathroom tile work, and a complete interior paint job. Judith has already planned a painting party for this weekend! The cost of the repairs, about $10,000, was included in the mortgage loan from USDA, and Judith doesn’t have to wait until everything is completed before she moves in. In the photo, Judith is showing where her dishwasher will be installed.

In Maryland, this is a brand new type of Self-Help program. IHA is the only nonprofit that has received a technical assistance grant from USDA Rural Development to provide this program in Frederick County, as well as Carroll and Washington counties.

IHA works with program participants to obtain a certificate of eligibility from USDA for a no down payment, 3.125% fixed rate 33-year mortgage. We also provide credit repair and budgeting workshops and one-on-one sessions for those that need help in this area, bundle together all of the documents and verifications required to go out with the application, inspect potential homes for realtors to determine whether a home qualifies for the program, work up a list of required repairs along with a cost estimate, set up and manage supervised bank accounts for the portion of the loan designated to cover the repairs after closing, manage the repair process after closing, and teach new homeowners how to repair and maintain their new home. There is no fee for our services.

Purchase-Repair Homeownership Program

Purchase-Repair Homeownership Program

IHA’s Purchase-Repair Homeownership Program provides affordable homeownership opportunities to families and individuals that wouldn’t otherwise qualify for a traditional mortgage. Program participants receive free technical assistance from IHA through the entire homeownership process, from credit repair and budget counseling, preparation of the loan application, locating and placing an appropriate home under contract, how to repair and maintain their home, as well as on-going post-purchase counseling to eliminate any chance of foreclosure in the future. The entire community benefits by revitalizing neglected communities, reusing infrastructure and preserving existing housing. This program is currently available in Carroll, Frederick, and Washington counties in Maryland.