Single parents who are pursuing higher education have a place to call home in Covington, Ky.

The Lincoln Grant Elementary School in Covington, Ky., has been transformed into housing for single-parent households pursuing higher eduction.
The Lincoln Grant Elementary School in Covington, Ky., has been transformed into housing for single-parent households pursuing higher eduction.

Lincoln Grant Scholar House, co-developed by Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission (NKCAC) and The Marian Group, provides 45 units of affordable housing for single-parent households earning no more than 50% of the area median income.

The development brings new life to Lincoln Grant Elementary School, an African-American Heritage site that was built in 1931 and had sat vacant since 2006. The adaptive-reuse of the historic school includes 25 units of housing and a community service facility that maintains the historic auditorium as a community resource. An additional 20 units are located in a new building.

“There was a marked desire to preserve this structure in a way that would be meaningful to the original purpose of the building,” says Kimberly J. Stephenson, vice president of development for The Marian Group. “Since it was a school, it was repurposed to serve individuals in the community in educational programming to complete two- or four-year degrees.”

As a Family Scholar House program affiliate, the development includes educational and family support services. Nonprofit NKCAC also will connect residents with Head Start programs, day care, and summer enrichment programming for their children.

“The focus of the overall programming is to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty through that education component,” says Stephenson.

To date, Family Scholar House has produced 260 units of housing. Its program model has achieved strong results, including 20 families purchasing their own homes after program completion, 100% exiting into stable housing, 77% exiting into stable employment, and over 25 children of program participants pursuing secondary education.

“You’re seeing community impact and actual individual good where everyone truly benefits,” adds Stephenson. “We’re long-term supporters of Family Scholar House.”

The co-developers also did a land swap with the city to use part of the adjacent Randolph Park for parking. In return, the park was renovated with new basketball courts, shelters, benches, bike racks, and grilling areas.

The $10.6 million development was made possible through low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs) allocated by the Kentucky Housing Corp., with LIHTC and federal historic tax credit equity provided by PNC Real Estate. The city of Covington provided HOME and Community Development Block Grant funds as well as the donation of the building. Additional financing included state historic credits from the Kentucky Heritage Council’s State Historic Preservation Office and a Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh Affordable Housing Program grant.

The development also received 45 Sec. 8 vouchers and entered into a 15-year Housing Assistance Payments contract with the city.