Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), a non-profit owner and developer of affordable housing, has closed on the financing to renovate the 745 apartments at Hawthorne Place Apartments in Independence, Missouri. The property is home to 1,745 residents.
The $30 million of renovations will include upgrades to most kitchens and select baths; replacement of some heating, cooling and hot water equipment; new siding, sliders and windows for the northern portion of the site; new entry and closet doors for all units; interior common area upgrades; creation of 13 fully accessible apartments; community building expansion and improvements; and site and landscape improvements, including playground and walkway upgrades and replacement.
POAH secured public and private support for the project, including:
• Independence Development Authority (IDA): $40.4 million in tax-exempt bonds
• Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC): $3.5 million annually in Low Income Housing Tax Credits
• Boston Private and UMB: construction and permanent financing
• Boston Financial: tax credit equity of approximately $33 million
• Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston: $500,000 grant and $1.3 million in low interest debt.
Hawthorne Place is the site of the Financial Opportunity Center (FOC), which administers the Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) program, a federal program that helps low-income residents living in subsidized housing to increase their incomes, reduce their use of public assistance and build savings, enabling them to achieve economic mobility.
Housed within the David Stanley Community Center, the FOC is staffed by the Community Services League and provides financial coaches who work with residents to define financial goals and make connections to the community resources they need to help them succeed, such as training, childcare and transportation. The FSS Program has helped Hawthorne families save more than $400,000.
In 2017, POAH launched the Amy S. Anthony College Savings Accounts program at Hawthorne Place Apartments, in honor of its late founder and CEO to promote opportunity for children and their parents. The program creates college savings accounts for every Hawthorne child between 5 and 19 years of age whose family is participating in the FSS program.
Hawthorne Place Apartments is also one of four pilot sites for POAH’s Trauma-Resilient Communities project, a collaborative, human-centered design process to cultivate trauma-informed care within affordable rental housing.
POAH is collaborating with The Center for Trauma Informed Innovation at Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City and its current partner, the Community Services League, to work with residents and staff to explore trauma-informed innovations in resident services.
The project will look at property management practices and physical design to create a more equitable model for affordable housing that reduces evictions, improves resident and staff retention; promotes healthy, physical design; and contributes to individual and community resiliency.
As affordable housing providers have been working to address the growing housing crisis, organizations like POAH have been challenged by decades-old compliance regulations and restrictions that deter them from helping residents address underlying trauma issues that can result in resident evictions, health problems and financial and family instability.