The East Village subdivision in Monroe received a 2013 Housing North Carolina Award for achievement in affordable housing during the N.C. Affordable Housing Conference on Sept. 10.
The annual Housing North Carolina Awards are presented by conference sponsors the N.C. Housing Finance Agency, N.C. Housing Coalition and CICCAR. Recognition is given in three categories: homeownership developments, rental apartments and supportive housing for people with special needs.
The multi-phase, mixed-income East Village subdivision is the result of a partnership between nonprofit Monroe-Union County Community Development Corp., the City of Monroe and a private developer. The N.C. Community Development Initiative provided technical assistance to the CDC in the form of a case manager who helped write grant applications and structure the LLC agreement with the for-profit developer. Initiative Capital, the Initiative’s lending arm, also provided critical gap financing when other lenders were unwilling to subordinate the construction loan.
“This award helped to validate the need for our partner agencies, such as the Initiative and the [N.C.] Association [of Community Development Corporations],” said Isabelle Gillespie, executive director of Monroe Union County CDC. “It helps the agency stand out and shows that for-profit, nonprofit and municipal agencies can come together and develop a good, affordable project.”
The strength of the partnership between Monroe-Union County CDC and the City allowed them to rework their strategy when the recession hit and resume construction with a new developer. Monroe-Union County CDC assisted homebuyers with pre-purchase counseling and helped existing homeowners retain their homes through foreclosure prevention counseling.
“The partnership with the city was really crucial in [our] being able to do the development, because of all the amenities they did provide, including allowing us to apply for DCA and CDBG grants, providing us with free sewer and water taps, providing $10,000 in down payment assistance to buyers which allowed us to cover the cost of design improvements, and providing meeting space for our homebuyer education workshops,” said Gillespie.
The 28-home neighborhood incorporates SystemVision standards for energy efficiency, resulting in average heating and cooling costs that are guaranteed not to exceed $30 a month. The homes are three- or four-bedroom, ranging from 1,300 to 1,635 square feet and selling for $127,000-$153,000.
“One key to success is understanding the needs of your other partners; for instance, understanding what we, the nonprofit, need to get out of the project as well as what our for-profit developer needs to walk away with,” said Gillespie. “We need something to keep the doors open but we have other sources of income that support our operation, which is not the same with our for-profit developer. So you have to balance the two in order to have a successful relationship.”
Entries for the Housing North Carolina Awards are judged on:
- Design (attractiveness, appropriateness, innovation, resource efficiency, and other factors)
- Sustainability (provisions to ensure the property will continue to be both affordable and attractive, including deed restrictions, quality construction, energy-saving construction)
- Contribution to the local community (including meeting market needs, furthering local policy goals, and similar factors)
- Special features, such as supportive services to residents, creative financing partnerships, and others
The N.C. Community Development Initiative leads North Carolina’s collaborative community economic development effort, driving innovation, investment and action to create prosperous, sustainable communities. For more information, visit www.ncinitiative.org.