Developer: Avesta Housing Architect: Gawron Turgeon Architects

Major Funders: Northern New England Housing Investment Fund; MaineHousing; NeighborWorks America; Genesis Fund; TD Bank; Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston; Department of Housing and Urban Development; Maine Health and Human Services; Portland Housing Authority; the City of Portland

PORTLAND, MAINE— Florence House is a haven for homeless women. In simple terms, the project provides a roof over people's heads. But it is much more complex, delivering three types of housing in a single building—25 efficiency apartments, 15 “safe haven” units, and room for up to 25 emergency shelter beds.

“Florence House has dramatically changed the conversation around homelessness in Portland and in Maine,” says Dana Totman, president of nonprofit Avesta Housing. “Portland understands that emergency shelters are not the answer. This is a viable small city model to end chronic homelessness.”

The second and third floors contain the 25 low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) apartments for chronically homeless and disabled individuals who are able to be more independent.

The first floor houses the safe haven units, semi-private clusters of personal areas with a bed and a wardrobe. These are intended as permanent living space for chronically homeless women who are not ready for their own apartments. Some residents have paranoia or claustrophobia, so the clusters are designed to provide privacy without feeling constrained.

While the apartments and safe haven units go a long way to ending homelessness among women in the area, developers included the shelter to respond to episodic homelessness.

Florence House embraces the Housing First model of getting the homeless into their own homes as quickly as possible. It also is the first affordable housing development in the state to use geothermal heating and cooling systems.

Avesta has partnered with Preble Street, the state's main provider of homeless services, to offer a range of programs at Florence House.

Financing for the $7.7 million development included about $4 million in LIHTC equity from the Northern New England Housing Investment Fund and subsidies from MaineHousing, the city of Portland, Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, TD Bank, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. —Donna Kimura


Sally Painter
Developer: Central City Concern

Architect: William Wilson Architects

Major Funders: U.S. Bank; Wells Fargo Bank; City of Portland; Multnomah County; Oregon Housing and Community Services; Network for Oregon Affordable Housing; Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle; Homestreet Bank; Enterprise Green Communities; Energy Trust of Oregon; Providence Mother Joseph Fund; Albina Community Bank

PORTLAND, ORE.— A tired 45-year-old Ramada Inn has been transformed into an innovative affordable housing development for the city's neediest residents.

The 176-unit Madrona Studios provides permanent supportive housing, alcohol- and drugfree units, and workforce apartments for program graduates and other low-income residents. Madrona Studios also includes a 70-bed drug and alcohol recovery center. All have rents restricted at 40 percent of the area median income.

By creatively reusing the five-story hotel, developers were able to deliver the units at about half the cost of new construction, according to the local nonprofits behind the project, developer Central City Concern (CCC), which has a history of serving the hardest to house, and consultant Housing Development Center.

“Our theme is changing lives and building communities,” says Ed Blackburn, CCC executive director. “This project fits so well into that.”

The reuse of the structure is just one of the ways that Madrona Studios is a green development. A transit-oriented project that's helping revitalize the neighborhood, the building features an upgraded solar water heating system, improved insulation with heat reflective roofing, and a bike room for 130 bicycles.

Madrona Studios, which uses 23 funding sources, required a complex fi- nancing structure.

To make the $25 million project work, the ownership of the building was separated into two legal entities, with 132 units—96 workforce and 36 supportive housing—on the top three floors funded largely through $7.1 million in low-income housing tax credit equity from U.S. Bank and $5.2 million in tax increment financing from the Portland Development Commission. In the second entity, 44 drug- and alcohol-free supportive- housing units on the second floor and the first-floor detox center are funded with the help of $2.8 million in New Markets Tax Credit equity from Wells Fargo Bank and $3.7 million in bond financing from the Portland Housing Bureau.

The city of Portland, Multnomah County, and Oregon Housing and Community Services are key financing partners. —Donna Kimura


George Lama Photography

Developer: Olmsted Center for Sight

Architect: Silvestri Architects

Major Funders: RBC Capital Markets; M&T Bank; New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal; Dormitory Authority of the State of New York; First Niagara Bank

LOCKPORT, N.Y.— Blind and other disabled residents have a safe and affordable home at the Nelson Hopkins Apartments.

The 24-unit community is designed to provide easy mobility and increased safety for its special population, which often suffers falls and injuries related to an unsafe home environment.

Developed by nonprofit Olmsted Center for Sight, the building is loaded with state-of-the art features, including an emergency call system in each apartment, adjustable cabinets and countertops, a talking elevator, and special lighting.

All the apartments, which were set to open at the end of June, will have at least one independent individual who is blind, visually impaired, or has another disability.

The development also answers the issue of affordability, with the units targeted to those earning no more than 50 percent of the area median income. Rents are about 40 percent below market rents.

By providing safe and affordable homes, residents can remain independent and live without barriers, says Milissa Acquard, COO at the Olmsted Center.

One of the unique features at Nelson Hopkins is that residents are linked to the National Statler Center for Careers in Hospitality Service, a program of Olmsted Center that provides training and job placement in the customer-service field.

Located in the town of Lockport, a suburb of Buffalo, Nelson Hopkins overcame the challenge of finding a national low-income housing tax credit investor by turning to local banking relationships.

The $4.9 million development was financed with $2.1 million in tax credit equity from syndicator RBC Capital Markets and investor M&T Bank. The New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal provided the tax credit award and $2.4 million through the recently created Tax Credit Assistance Program. The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York provided $400,000. —Donna Kimura


Iwan Baan
Developer: Skid Row Housing Trust

Architect: Michael Maltzan Architects

Major Funders: Citi Community Capital; Los Angeles Housing Department; California Department of Housing and Community Development; California Tax Credit Allocation Committee; Enterprise Community Investment; Century Housing; California Community Foundation

LOS ANGELES— The New Carver Apartments achieves both high purpose and high style. Built by the Skid Row Housing Trust (SRHT), the 97-unit development provides permanent supportive-housing units for formerly homeless men and women.

At the same time, it makes a bold statement that design matters even when serving the homeless.

New Carver illustrates the importance of design in facilitating recovery from homelessness by “making the on-site services functional in the way they are laid out in the building and by creating spaces that promote positive social interaction,” says Mike Alvidrez, SRHT executive director. Designed by acclaimed architect Michael Maltzan, the dramatic six-story spiral with faceted walls has attracted public and media attention for a group that's often ignored.

The building's unique shape came about as a way to mitigate noise from the nearby freeway. Sound moves around the building's curves, lessening the impact.

Inside, a central courtyard and airy decks aim to uplift residents and encourage them to be part of the community. Services are also key at New Carver, with residents having access to crisis services, health care, benefits advocacy, and other programs.

Developers used several new financing programs to fund the $33 million development, including the city's Permanent Supportive Housing Program, which links Sec. 8 project-based vouchers with the Los Angeles Housing Department's housing capital application so developers can make a single application for both.

It was also one of the first to utilize funds from Proposition 1C, a statewide voter-approved housing bond that is providing capital to affordable housing. And, New Carver is also using the Tax Credit Exchange Program, which was created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to help low-income housing tax credit projects during the economic downturn. —Donna Kimura


Developer: Trilogy Development Architect: Economides Architects

Major Funders: Great Lakes Capital Fund; Michigan State Housing Development Authority; Department of Housing and Urban Development

BATTLE CREEK, MICH.— Homeless veterans filled Silver Star Apartments in a short 39 days, a strong show of demand for the 75 permanent supportive-housing units.

Built on the grounds of the Battle Creek Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the development is the first low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) community of its kind in the state.

The special location required Marvin Veltkamp and his team at Trilogy Development to negotiate a tricky enhanced-use lease to build on federal land. After lengthy negotiations with Veterans Affairs (VA) and the help of Michigan's U.S. senators, the developer was able to obtain a 75-year lease.

Veltkamp is also CEO of Medallion Management, the leaseholder and managing agent.

“Flowers, clay, art, and sunlit spaces don't work miracles, but they can set the stage in which miracles occur,” he says. “We have been able to reach the hearts of these homeless veterans. We are able to touch their lives and help them to make changes in their lives.”

The location benefits the men and women who live at Silver Star by placing them close to the programs at the VA campus. The majority of residents have been referred by the medical center. In addition, Family Home Health Services provides case management and other services.

The one-bedroom apartments come furnished and have their own patio or balcony.

Much of the financing for the $8.9 million development came from $4.7 million in LIHTC equity from Great Lakes Capital Fund. The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) is providing project-based housing choice vouchers for all the units, which bring in rental subsidies to keep rents low. MSHDA also provided key loans to the project. —Donna Kimura