Chimes Terrace is a game changer for low-income seniors who need assisted living.

The Johnstown, Ohio, development is a rare option for the elderly as they age but can still live independently with the right support.

“This is an issue people don’t often think about,” says Michelle Norris, president of National Church Residences Development Co. “When folks age in affordable housing, they have no step-up option of going to assisted living. Their only [option] is to wait until their health is really bad, and then they have to go to skilled nursing.”

Chimes Terrace answers their needs and serves as a new model for providing housing and health care, as well.

The property was a longtime Sec. 202 development, but, after 32 years, it needed to be recapitalized and updated. That led the nonprofit to also think about transforming the building’s purpose, Norris says.

In 2011, the Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded National Church Residences a $3.6 million Assisted Living Conversion Program (ALCP) grant to convert 24 of the property’s 60 units into affordable, licensed, assisted-living units. As part of the conversion, the facility added a commercial-size kitchen, a dining room, and additional therapy and community space. 

“We call it elderly transformative preservation,” Norris says.

Chimes Terrace is a rare building that offers 60 affordable units under a Sec. 8 contract, with 24 units servicing residents who qualify for the assisted-living service and the remaining 36 units servicing income-qualified senior residents. The firm believes it is the first project in the country to combine ALCP and 9% low-income housing tax credits.

To accomplish the complex financing within the regulatory constraints, it was necessary to "condominiumize" the building: One part is for the assisted-living units funded with the ALCP grant; the other side is affordable housing funded with housing tax credits and a Federal Housing Administration loan.

The assisted-living section provides residents with a wide range of services, including three meals a day.

The ALCP program gives individuals who would otherwise be unable to afford assisted-living services the opportunity to receive them at a price they can afford. Not only is this model more appropriate for many residents, it’s less expensive for the state than to place the individuals into costly nursing homes.

Financing for the $12.8 million project, which was renovated to meet LEED Silver standards, also includes nearly $4 million in low-income housing tax credit equity ­from the National Affordable Housing Trust.