From a large tax credit project incorporated into a luxury golf course community by virtue of inclusionary zoning to small projects targeted to special needs groups, the finalists in AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE magazine’s second annual Readers’ Choice Awards illustrate the diversity of affordable housing developments being built today.

You are invited to help us choose the best of these projects to receive our Readers' Choice Awards. Read about all 32 finalists on the following pages, then vote for a winner in each category and one as the overall grand prize winner.

The formal public presentation of our 2006 Readers’ Choice Awards will take place at a luncheon scheduled for Nov. 3 from noon to 2 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. This event will be held immediately after the conclusion of AHF Live: The 2006 Tax Credit Developers’ Summit, which will take place Nov. 1 to 3 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. We’ll also feature the winning projects with extensive coverage in the November issue of AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE.

These projects show the different approaches and techniques that developers are using to serve low-income Americans, ranging from families to pregnant teens to seniors.

One finalist is Seton Home in San Antonio, a community for teenage mothers and their babies that has drawn girls from throughout Texas. Developed by Seton Home and DMA Development Co., the project is providing not only shelter, but also key social services to help the young women and their newborns. The project’s new 24-unit building was built without debt. It also represents the first time that low-income housing tax credits were used in Texas for transitional housing for minors.

In Baltimore, the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi enlisted Homes for America (HfA) to help renovate an old orphanage and special education school into new affordable housing. The $7 million, 30-unit Clare Court project has garnered multiple awards and serves as a multigenerational community for families adopting children from the local foster-care system, persons with disabilities, and seniors. Through an innovative partnership, the nuns sold a portion of the building to HfA to convert into four-bedroom townhouses.

Southwood Square in Stamford, Conn., is the kind of old-fashioned neighborhood where people from all walks of life live together peacefully and the trees are a hundred years old. This HOPE VI redevelopment rebuilt a crime-ravaged community, which mixed public housing with luxury rental apartments. The developer, Beacon/ Corcoran Jennison Partners, LLC, took special care to help the original public housing residents succeed in the new community—and to preserve the trees.

There are 32 finalists in the following seven categories:

  • Family Projects
  • Historic Rehab/Preservation Projects
  • Master-Planned/Inclusionary Zoning Projects
  • Mixed-Use Projects
  • Seniors Projects
  • Special Needs/SRO Projects
  • Urban Projects

The finalists were chosen by the editors of AHF, with assistance from Dianne Spaulding, executive director of the Nonprofit Housing Association of Northern California in San Francisco, and Al Bonnett, senior vice president of EAH, Inc., a housing developer based in San Rafael, Calif. To be eligible, projects had to have been completed in 2005 or scheduled for completion by the end of 2006.

Finalists were selected based on our assessment of several project characteristics, including:

  • Impact on the community by adding substantially to the affordable housing stock or improving the immediate social or economic fabric
  • Role in overall community revitalization or social change
  • Setting a new standard or pioneering a new method of financing or developing housing
  • Employing cost-effective of innovative design and/or construciton, including energy efficiency and sustainable development
  • Demonstrating creative problem-solving.