A bike repair shop, fresh produce, and a summer internship program for residents are some of the interesting benefits that affordable housing developers are providing their residents.
Affordable Housing Finance recently surveyed developers across the country about their activities, including resident programs. Many firms provide a comprehensive suite of services, including after-school programs, scholarships, transportation assistance, computer classes, and free Internet access.
A few developers have some other interesting offerings:
Bike repair shop—ROEM Corp. decided to add a convenient place for residents to fix, maintain, and wash their bikes at a new community under development in Mountain View, Calif. The developer is adding this feature, believing many residents will be riding their two-wheelers to the nearby transit stations to commute to and from work.Produce boxes—TWG Development in Indianapolis says it provides “community-supported agriculture boxes” to its low-income housing tax credit developments once a week. With the assistance of the manager, residents share the fresh produce in the boxes.
Other firms are providing access to a food pantry. GHC Housing Partners in Sherman Oaks, Calif., has a partnership with a food pantry to make sure residents have fresh commodities. During 2014, more than 8,000 residents participated. Humanities Foundation also expanded its food pantry program to all of its South Carolina properties.
Internships—Silver Street Development Corp. in Portland, Maine, operates a summertime internship program to train young residents in areas such as IT and maintenance. The initiative offers good job training and real world experience.
Junior bank—Children living at a National Housing Trust/Enterprise Preservation Corp.’s development in Fredericksburg, Va., operate a junior bank. With the help of PNC Bank staff, the youth track and accept cash deposits and learn important financial literacy skills in the process. To build their accounts, the young residents conduct a number of fundraisers to meet monthly deposit goals.Musical theater program—At a seniors housing development in Hollywood, Calif., Thomas Safran & Associates partnered with Stagebridge, a nonprofit organization, to provide a 12-week musical theater program for residents. The program did more than just offer free acting and singing classes. It transformed a group of individuals into a supportive family, says the firm.Eviction prevention assistance—Community HousingWorks (CHW) in San Diego recently launched its Rental Home Stability Program to help low-income families achieve financial security as well as improve the financial performance of its properties. CHW’s property management partners identify families at-risk of eviction both reactively (families with an eviction notice for failure to pay) and proactively (households who are chronically late). Participating families are offered flexible payment plans, coupled with other support. After home stability has been achieved, families are offered financial products such as credit rebuilding loans or match savings accounts. In the first year, 44 households potentially facing eviction entered the program, and 75% stayed in their homes, 11% moved; and 14% were evicted, saving an estimated $158,400 in potential eviction costs.
Abode Communities in Los Angeles is offering its Beyond Homes program at 16 communities. In 2014, the firm provided 4,553 hours of after-school enrichments, 3,483 hours of computer instruction, and 383 employment referrals. Beyond Homes programming also prevented 145 evictions.
Health programs—Several developers cited offering key health-related services. Flaherty & Collins Properties in Indianapolis says its seniors housing development in Petersburg, Ind., brings the first health clinic to Pike County.
Volunteers of America opened up a new Program for All Inclusive Care for the Elderly program, often known as PACE, in Durham, N.C., and started construction on another in Lansing, Mich., with the goal of providing more intensive medial services to the elderly in those communities.
Skid Row Housing Trust in Los Angeles hired a health program manager. The new hire will work with case managers on several fronts, including finding ways to help residents access health care.
REACH Community Development in Portland, Ore., partnered with other nonprofits to establish Housing With Services, an initiative designed to develop a model for connecting residents with health care and social services.
USA Properties Fund in Roseville, Calif., is exploring a telemedicine program that will allow doctors to provide clinical health care to residents in their apartments via two-way video.