Manzanita is a model for how to renovate a large family property and ensure its long-term affordability for decades to come.

Community HousingWorks (CHW) competed against multiple buyers to purchase the aging 200-unit property when it came on the market in year 15 of its initial 30-year low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) commitment in 2014. The firm’s quick action prevented others from buying the complex and pursuing an eventual market-rate conversion that would potentially displace hundreds of residents.

Once CHW acquired the Escondido, Calif., property, the nonprofit invested in the 40-year-old community’s immediate and future needs, says Anne B. Wilson, CHW senior vice president.

As part of the $40.9 million project, CHW repaired unit interiors, replaced major building systems, and installed state-of-the-art green upgrades and solar technology that serve 100% of the common-area needs and 90% of the tenant load. CHW also retrofitted 350 balconies and restored a community center.

The property’s ample open space allowed for the creation of a soccer field that’s home to a unique sports-enrichment and education program. At Manzanita, where 75% of the apartments are two- and three-bedroom units, half of its 800 residents are under 18 years.

“The renovations were important, with tenants telling us they didn’t want to move,” says Sylvia Martinez, senior project manager. “They were near schools and close to jobs. This property was serving a need for working families and retired people in the community.”

Manzanita required a sophisticated and swift acquisition execution with financing from Freddie Mac originator Oak Grove Capital (now JLL), Community Housing Capital, and CHW’s own resources. The team then recapitalized the property with bond and 4% LIHTC financing from U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp. and Union Bank.

The effort is a replicable strategy to preserve affordable housing assets for decades to come.