Families, Former Foster Youths Find Common Ground

OAKLAND, CALIF. Young adults who have nowhere to go when they age out of the foster-care system have found a home at the Madison at 14th Street Apartments.

“The development provides beautiful, stable housing for young people who have been up against the odds their whole lives, many of whom have never had a stable place to live,” says Susan Friedland, executive director of nonprofit developer Affordable Housing Associates (AHA).

Twenty of the 79 units are dedicated to former foster youths while the other units provide affordable housing for families.

The eight-story urban infill project is the first new affordable family housing in downtown Oakland in nearly a decade. More than 3,000 people applied to live at the property. Household incomes are from 30 percent to 50 percent of the area median income (AMI), but because there are some Sec. 8 units, the actual income averages are lower.

AHA worked with First Place for Youth, a local nonprofit, to pioneer a new model to address the challenges. They created a progressive rental program in which the youths pay an increasing portion of their rent over a two-year period as they become more financially independent. After two years, they become independent tenants and are responsible for their rents, which have been set at 30 percent of the AMI. An on-site services program provides tools to help the youths succeed.

The $31 million project incorporates green features, including solar panels that provide roughly 40 percent of the electrical common load. The property also utilizes a three-tiered parking lift system to provide 51 spaces where only 17 would otherwise fit. —Donna Kimura

A Fresh Start in Hammond

HAMMOND, IND. Golden Manor and Saxony Townhomes are erasing the stigma of public housing. They are the first two phases in the redevelopment of Columbia Center, a 1940s-era public housing project that stretched across 40 acres in this town.

The new developments introduce mixed-income housing to a site that has been entirely public housing, according to Maria Becerra, executive director of the Hammond Housing Authority. The streets have even been renamed to signal a new beginning.

The 80-unit Golden Manor serves seniors and features 76 affordable units for those earning between 30 percent and 60 percent of the area median income. The 68-unit Saxony Townhomes is open to all ages and has 55 affordable apartments that also serve a range of incomes.

The complexes serve as an example of a public housing redevelopment done without federal HOPE VI funds. The HOPE VI program aims to replace the nation's most distressed public housing complexes. Although Columbia Center was old and obsolete, its apartments were still functional, making it an unlikely candidate for those funds.

Partnering with Herman & Kittle Properties, Inc., an experienced affordable housing developer, the housing authority assembled other sources, including $300,000 in city gambling revenues. This was the first example of Hammond using the funds for affordable housing.

The team also received about $7.7 million in low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs) for the $8.2 million Golden Manor and $8.7 million in LIHTCs for the $9.6 million Saxony.

“The developments show what can be done when public and private organizations work together,” says Jeff Kittle, executive vice president and managing director at Herman & Kittle.

The design embraces the principles of new urbanism, and a variety of social services are offered to residents. —Donna Kimura

Sustainability Shines at Oxford Plaza

BERKELEY, CALIF. Oxford Plaza is a model urban infi ll and environmentally sensitive affordable housing development. That alone would be enough, but the project aims for more.

Seven years in the making, Oxford Plaza opened this year along with the adjacent David Brower Center, a new home for the area's many environmental and social nonprofit organizations. Together, they form a new mixed-use community that's a showcase for sustainability.

“We worked hard on a concept and made it happen,” says Dan Sawislak, executive director of Resources for Community Development, the nonprofit developer of Oxford Plaza. The city is the third partner in the overall development, owning an underground parking garage for the public and residents.

The effort has created a civic edge of downtown, adjacent to the University of California at Berkeley campus and a block from a regional train station.

Oxford Plaza's green features include solar panels that heat domestic hot water and provide in-floor radiant heat. A rainwater collection system supplies “grey” water to irrigate the Brower Center, which is named after the former Sierra Club leader. Residents have a rooftop garden and a playground.

All 97 units are affordable, with apartments reserved for households earning from 20 percent to 60 percent of the area median income. More than half of the units are two- and threebedroom apartments to serve families. There are also units for people with disabilities and those living with HIV/AIDS. Approximately 3,500 people applied to live at Oxford Plaza.

The $40.6 million development offers on-site after-school programs and adult education classes. The Brower Center makes its programs and activities available to residents. —Donna Kimura

New Orleans Revival

NEW ORLEANS The Preserve is one of the first mixed-income projects built in the city since Hurricane Katrina. Providing 183 units of needed housing, the development contributes to the overall recovery of New Orleans, says developer Matthew Schwartz, a principal at The Domain Cos.

The Preserve replaces the Crystal Hot Sauce plant that was destroyed by the hurricane four years ago and is a catalyst in the revival of Tulane Avenue in the Mid-City neighborhood. The city has contributed more than $1.4 million to rebuild the streets and infrastructure surrounding the project.

With The Preserve, Domain has also introduced a mixed-income housing concept that has been relatively untested in the market, according to Schwartz.

The development features 74 affordable apartments for households earning between 30 percent and 60 percent of the area median income and 109 marketrate units. This 40/60 percent mix was designed to serve the different incomes represented in the surrounding area. In addition, 5 percent of the units are set aside as permanent supportive housing with services.

The affordable units were oversubscribed prior to the development's completion at the end of 2008, and the market-rate units were leased within 90 days of opening.

One of the challenges was the hesitancy of investors and lenders to put money into New Orleans. Domain leveraged its existing relationships to bring in a core group of investors to the city, where it hosted several “road shows” to build confidence in the market. The firm raised more than $100 million for three low-income housing tax credit projects.

A $43.2 million development, The Preserve was financed with about $16.5 million in tax credit equity from Centerline Capital Group and nearly $16 million in Community Development Block Grants. Bank of America and Freddie Mac provided an $8.5 million mortgage. —Donna Kimura


Developer: Affordable Housing Associates

Major Funders: Enterprise Community Investment, Inc.; California Municipal Finance Authority; U.S. Bank; City of Oakland; California Department of Housing and Community Development; California Tax Credit Allocation Committee; California Debt Limit Allocation Committee; Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco with Mississippi Valley Life Insurance; Corporation for Supportive Housing; Northern California Community Loan Fund; California Energy Commission


Developers: Hammond Housing Authority and Herman & Kittle Properties, Inc.

Major Funders: Golden Manor: Wachovia Securities; Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority; Wachovia Affordable Housing Community Development Corp.; City of Hammond Saxony Townhomes: RBC Capital Markets Tax Credit Equity Group; Fifth Third Bank; RBS Citizens/Charter One; Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority; City of Hammond


Developer: Resources for Community Development

Major Funders: Enterprise Community Investment, Inc.; Wells Fargo; City of Berkeley Housing Trust Fund; City of Berkeley Redevelopment Agency; Alameda County; California Department of Housing and Community Development; California Tax Credit Allocation Committee; Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco with Far East National Bank; Local Initiatives Support Corp.; Surdna Foundation


Developer: The Domain Cos.

Major Funders: Centerline Capital Group; Bank of America; Freddie Mac; City of New Orleans; Louisiana Housing Finance Agency