WOMELSDORF, PA.—Betty Schoener worked at a textile factory sewing sleeves onto blouses back in 1964. It was demanding work. Today her apartment is located in the exact spot on the third floor in the corner of the building where she used to work in this rural Pennsylvania town. She remembers the dirt and grease that covered the floor, and the oil from sewing machines that seeped onto her shoes.
“It’s a clean floor now, I can tell you that,” said the 81-year-old. “You wouldn’t think it’s the same building. Talk about life coming full circle.”
Schoener is a resident at Henner Apartments, a 27-unit apartment building for seniors and people with disabilities. AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE readers selected the $4.5 million project as the top affordable rural housing development in the country.
Schoener sold her two-bedroom home in January because it was just too much to keep up with after her husband passed away. She said she was set to move in May but waited until Henner Apartments became available in September because she wanted to be close to her granddaughter and two great-grandchildren. Plus, she was impressed with the design of Henner Apartments.
“The apartments are just so clean and beautiful,” said Schoener. “And I have very high standards.”
The developer of the project is Lancaster. Pa.-based Housing Development Corp. (HDC). The architect is Bruce Weinsteiger with Architectural Concepts.
“This is a small, quaint town, so all the construction created some excitement,” said Cyndie Fuhrer, development officer for HDC. Most of the developments in the neighborhood are single-family homes. The streets are very narrow. A log cabin built in the 1790s is located a few doors down.
All the units are one-bedrooms, each with an average size of 565 square feet. Several of the apartments are designed for residents in wheelchairs. All units are set aside for those earning no more than 60 percent of the area median income (AMI). More than 60 percent of the units are reserved for residents earning no more than 50 percent of the AMI.
The development received more than $2.9 million in equity from the sale of lowincome housing tax credits. The tax credit syndicator is Enterprise Community Investment, Inc. The project received financing from PennHOMES and HOME funds from Berks County. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development division supplied a $195,000 loan.
HDC struggled with budget constraints, said HDC’s CEO Michael Carper. The firm interviewed four contractors before selecting builder Arthur Frank & Sons to begin work on the development with a revamped design that included moving the community room to the second floor and replacing a dual-pipe heating system with individual PTAC (packaged terminal air conditioner) units in each apartment.
The Berks County Senior Citizens Council provides classes, trips, and other services to residents. The Womelsdorf Community Library visits regularly, bringing books for the resident library and conducting a variety of activities.
Developer: Housing Development Corp.
Architect: Bruce Weinsteiger with Architectural Concepts
Major Funders: PennHOMES
HOME funds from Berks County
U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development
Enterprise Community Investment, Inc.