Developer: National Church Residences Architect: Berardi + Partners, Inc.

Major Funders: JPMorgan Capital Corp.; National Affordable Housing Trust; City of Columbus; Franklin County; Ohio Housing Finance Agency; Department of Housing and Urban Development; Community Shelter Board; Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati; Huntington Bank; Enterprise Green Communities; Affordable Housing Trust of Columbus and Franklin County; Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority

COLUMBUS, OHIO—The Commons at Buckingham is home to 100 of the city's neediest residents.

Built by National Church Residences (NCR), the development stands as a model for permanent supportive housing.

“Permanent supportive housing is the key to helping people reclaim their lives and to addressing those issues that may have led to homelessness," says Michelle Norris, NCR senior vice president. “The Commons at Buckingham proves that those goals can be accomplished in an architecturally attractive and energy-efficient building, in which quality housing and services form a real, sustainable solution."

The development serves 75 long-term homeless individuals with a disabling condition and 25 other low-income residents who require supportive housing. Ten apartments are dedicated to residents with medical disabilities, 15 are for residents leaving psychiatric group homes or hospitals, and a minimum of 10 units are aimed at homeless and disabled veterans.

Residents have access to a resource center and an on-site clinic.

The $11.2 million development is the first permanent supportive-housing facility in the Midwest to achieve a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design platinum designation.

It is the first in Columbus to use a vulnerability assessment tool to ensure that the most fragile are being served and the first NCR program with a community engagement requirement that calls for residents to work, be enrolled in an education program, or volunteer for community service for at least eight hours per month.

NCR already has data that shows the development is saving the public money. Four residents moved from nursing homes, and 14 came from group homes. The annual savings from these residents is $824,900. —Donna Kimura  


Developer: Affordable Housing Associates Architect: Asian Neighborhood Design

Major Funders: Enterprise Community Investment; Wells Fargo; Oakland Redevelopment Agency; Department of Housing and Urban Development; California Tax Credit Allocation Committee; Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco; Mechanics Bank; Oakland Housing Authority; Alameda County; Alameda County StopWaste; Low Income Investment Fund; Northern California Community Loan Fund  

OAKLAND, CALIF.—Fairmount Apartments accomplishes two important goals. It provides valuable affordable housing to individuals with mental illnesses and improves its overall neighborhood.

Using a variety of funding sources, Affordable Housing Associates (AHA) acquired a dangerous market-rate apartment building that had been cited with multiple code violations and made it a safe home for disabled and low-income families.

“We transformed the building from a neighborhood eyesore into a community asset,” says AHA Executive Director Susan Friedland.

At the 31-unit development, six units are reserved for homeless individuals with severe and persistent mental illnesses, and another five are dedicated to households with other types of disabilities.

The remaining apartments serve low-income households earning between 20 percent and 50 percent of the area median income, but many of these units are also home to special-needs residents, says Friedland.

To develop the $11.8 million Fairmount, AHA had to navigate the tumultuous economy. After securing funding commitments in 2008, state lending programs were suddenly suspended, creating significant budget gaps and jeopardizing other financing.

Developers had to find new financing. Wells Fargo stepped in as the construction and permanent lender, and the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee provided Tax Credit Assistance Program funds. AHA secured several other funding sources to make the deal possible.

Enterprise Community Investment stayed in as the low-income housing tax credit syndicator, maintaining pricing near $0.90 per dollar of credit. Fairmount also tapped new funds from the state voter-approved Mental Health Services Act.

Since acquiring the property, AHA has completed a long list of improvements, including an earthquake retrofit and the addition of a solar thermal hot water system. —Donna Kimura  


Developer: Mercy Housing Lakefront Architect: Korb Tredo Architects

Major Funders: U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp.; U.S. Bank; Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority; Milwaukee Housing Trust Fund; Milwaukee County Housing Trust Fund; Department of Housing and Urban Development; Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati  

MILWAUKEE—Johnston Center Residences leads the way for permanent supportive housing in Milwaukee.

The first such large-scale development in the city, it is moving the “social change needle” to allow for additional permanent supportive housing to follow.

In Milwaukee, mentally ill residents have largely lived in scattered-site apartments, isolated and away from critical services.

Johnston Center shows a different way for housing and helping this vulnerable population.

Developer Mercy Housing Lakefront adapted a vacant medical center and constructed an adjacent building to create Johnston Center Residences, which is providing 91 apartments— 41 for chronically homeless and disabled residents and 50 for low-income residents at high risk of homelessness.

Although the apartments are reserved for residents earning no more than 50 percent of the area median income (AMI), nearly all have incomes at or below 30 percent of the AMI.

Supportive services are the other critical piece of Johnston Center. Through a partnership with Hope House of Milwaukee, residents receive comprehensive case management, employment services, and other assistance to move toward economic self-sufficiency.

To make the project happen, Mercy Housing helped change local and state policies that limited a developer's ability to create a large supportive housing building.

Mercy Housing officials worked with the city to obtain the necessary zoning changes to allow for similar scaled developments to be built and with the county to change the way it allocates funds for building operations so that supportivehousing projects can achieve sustainability. They also recommended changes to the way the state scores low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) applications to help permanent supportive-housing projects in the competition.

“We're changing policies and changing lives," says Cindy Holler, president of Mercy Housing Lakefront.

The development also features multiple green design elements, including a solar hot water heater and a green roof.

To finance the $14 million development, several funding sources were pooled, including LIHTCs, the Tax Credit Assistance Program, and local housing trust funds. —Donna Kimura  


Grand opening of Renaissance Uptown Lofts on December 16,2010. Photos by George Kochaniec, Jr.
Grand opening of Renaissance Uptown Lofts on December 16,2010. Photos by George Kochaniec, Jr.

Developer: Colorado Coalition for the Homeless Architect: Humphries Poli Architects

Major Funders: U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp.; U.S. Bank; Colorado Housing and Finance Authority; Colorado Division of Housing; Federal Home Loan Bank of Topeka; First Bank of Denver; Department of Housing and Urban Development; City of Denver; Kresge Foundation; Denver Housing Authority

DENVER—The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless names its properties “renaissance” for a reason.

They provide a rebirth for the individuals they house and help in the renewal of their neighborhoods, says John Parvensky, Coalition president.

In the case of Renaissance Uptown Lofts, the name also signals how it is providing employment for formerly homeless individuals who have been out of work for some time.

The 98-unit project is the first Coalition development to include a retail component. Developers have opened a Pizza Fusion franchise in the commercial space to provide valuable job training. At last count, 23 formerly homeless individuals were working there.

With the motto “saving the Earth one pizza at a time,” the business seemed a good fit with the Coalition, which is trying to end homelessness one person at time, says Parvensky.

Renaissance Uptown Lofts integrates 50 supportive-housing units for chronically homeless individuals with 48 affordable apartments for households earning no more than 30, 40, and 50 percent of the area median income.

This follows the Coalition's approach of integrating apartments for the chronically homeless with those for households with higher incomes, which reduces the stigma of homeless housing.

Located about five blocks from downtown, the $17 million infill development was built to Enterprise Green Communities standards and features solar panels and energy-efficient elevators.

Developers combined 13 financing sources, including about $7.8 million in low-income housing tax credit equity from U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp.

The project also used Tax Credit Assistance Program funds and a Kresge Foundation grant. The Denver Housing Authority provided 50 project-based Sec. 8 vouchers. —Donna Kimura  


Developer: West End Intergenerational Residence Architect: Edelman Sultan Knox Wood Architects, LLP

Major Funders: Citi Community Capital; The Richman Group Affordable Housing Corp.; New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development; Manhattan Borough President; New York State Energy Research and Development Agency; Federal Home Loan Bank of New York; M&T Bank; Corporation for Supportive Housing; New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; New York City Acquisition Fund

NEW YORK CITY—An estimated 3,000 to 8,000 gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youths are homeless in New York City, many of them forced onto the streets after coming out to their families.

True Colors Residence aims to give these young people a safe place to call home.

The groundbreaking project is the first permanent affordable housing development in the city, and likely the nation, aimed at gay youths.

“I'm hoping that it will be a model for others to use,” says Colleen Jackson, executive director of West End Intergenerational Residence, the nonprofit developer.

“My goal is not to have just one unique residence in Manhattan. There is such a need that I want to see a True Colors Residence in every borough and as a model nationwide."

Set to open in August, True Colors Residence has 30 studio apartments for the young adults. They are all project-based Sec. 8 units, so residents will pay no more than 30 percent of their incomes toward rent.

In addition, they will have access to on-site case management, counseling, vocational training, and other programs.

The six-story building was designed to foster a sense of community. In addition to the apartments, it includes a resource library, classroom space for workshops and other activities, and offices for case workers. It was also designed to meet state green building criteria.

True Colors Residence was conceived by Jackson, musical artist Cyndi Lauper, and Lauper's manager, Lisa Barbaris. The development is named after one of Lauper's hit songs in honor of her support.

As the $11.7 million project was being born, Jackson worried whether financing could be obtained for such a unique development. It turned out that several sources were ready to blaze the trail, including low-income housing tax credit investor Citi Community Capital and syndicator The Richman Group Affordable Housing Corp. The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development provided a key supportive-housing loan.

Together, they will reach an unserved population. —Donna Kimura