Capital One – Financing Supportive, Affordable Housing for Vulnerable Populations

Plaza West

Washington, D.C.

In the U.S., affordable housing for grandparents raising their grandchildren and for older adults raising younger relatives is extremely hard to come by. In Washington, D.C’s Mount Vernon Triangle, one development has opened its doors with these needs in mind. Of the 223 apartments at Plaza West, 50 are set aside for these “grandfamilies,” as they’re called, who make 30-60% of area median income. The remaining 173 units provide affordable housing for individuals and families making less than 60% of area median income.

2.6 million

According to the U.S. Census, as of 2017 there were 2.6 million grandparents raising their grandchildren in the United States. This phenomenon isn’t new, but the realization of housing to accommodate these families is. Plaza West is the first grandfamilies development in D.C. and one of only a handful of such developments in the entire United States.

Plaza West was completed in 2018 by Mission First Housing Group in partnership with Golden Rule Plaza Inc. Capital One’s support included a $7.5 million construction loan and the purchase of $35.5 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs), all of which helped to make this unique grandfamilies development possible. The tax credits were funded through Enterprise Community Partners. Additionally, Capital One provided a $200,000 social purpose grant, which is helping to pay for on-site support services for residents. This grant will be disbursed in the amount of $20,000 annually for 10 years.

Residents describe the apartments and support as “a dream come true.” The onsite Grandfamily Community Life Program Manager provides residents with support for trauma and twice-weekly tutoring. Additionally, Plaza West has partnered with Howard University’s School of Social Work, which now hosts a grandfamilies support group at the development. There is also a built-in support network that exists among the residents who, themselves, share a common mission.

Plaza West, and the group it serves, is special and this hasn’t gone unnoticed. Several news outlets, such as the Washington Post Magazine and National Public Radio, have highlighted the need that the development has filled within the community. Politicians have noticed as well, and staff reports that elected officials have reached out inquiring about ways they can better support housing programs for grandfamilies.

Ed Delany, the Capital One Community Finance Capital Officer who arranged the Bank’s financing, says that faithbased organizations like Golden Rule are increasingly playing a role in providing affordable housing in the communities in which they are based and own land.

“You’ve got a mission-based group who wants to do more in their community and in many cases they have this excess land,” Delany says. “The mission-based group and the excess land make for a perfect marriage. We couldn’t be more pleased with the success of Plaza West and hope that it will serve as a model for similar grandfamilies developments in the future.”

Harmon Apartments

Dorchester, Massachusetts

Supportive housing for people with ambulatory disabilities is a pressing need in the City of Boston. According to the Boston Disability Housing Task Force, there are approximately 22,000 non-elderly persons in Boston with ambulatory disabilities in need of accessible housing. Although Boston has a significant number of public housing and subsidized assisted housing units set aside for low-income persons with disabilities, the need for such units far exceeds the supply.

Harmon Apartments, 36 newly constructed apartments in the city’s South Dorchester neighborhood that opened in May 2019, is helping to close the supply gap. All 36 apartments are designed for persons with significant physical disabilities. They include those who are transitioning from long-term care as well as individuals already living in the community but in need of additional support programs to live independently. Thirty of the apartments are designated affordable, and eight of these are reserved for people with incomes that are at or below 30 percent of the area median income.

Dorchester is an area that has experienced rising prices, which makes the need all the more acute. However, the most important aspect of Harmon Apartment’s location may be that it is adjacent to The Boston Home, a 96-bed skilled nursing facility serving adults with advanced multiple sclerosis and similar progressive neurological diseases. The Boston Home is the only facility of its kind in New England and one of a handful of similar facilities in the United States.

“The Boston Home was the driving force for this development, because they wanted to solve for a need they saw with their own residents,” says Mark Migliacci, the Capital One Community Finance Capital Officer who arranged the financing the bank provided. “The location was very deliberate because The Boston Home had excess land it wanted to use for this purpose.”

The Boston Home also offers outpatient services that address the physiological, mobility, assistive technology and social needs for people with disabilities. Proximity makes it easy for residents of Harmon Apartment to take advantage of these services. In a resident survey about their living experiences prior to moving to Harmon Apartments, one resident commented, “Coming to Harmon Apartments has greatly increased my independence. The location is closer for my PCA (personal care assistant) to come to me every day. Before it would be hard for me to even open the door. We need this housing. The services are definitely needed.”

Affirmative Investments, Harmon Apartments’ developer, works to create high quality community hubs and homes and focuses on bringing together the teams necessary to ensure project success. This is evident in the financing structure that made the development possible and in the local support for the project.

Capital One’s financing included:

  • $7.3 million construction loan

  • $1.2 million in permanent financing

  • $10.1 million invested through syndication partner, National Equity Fund, in 9 percent low interest housing tax credits (LIHTCs) issued by Massachusetts’ Department of Housing and Community Development (MADHCD).

Harmon Apartments also received:

  • $1.0 million from the MADHCD Affordable Housing Trust Fund

  • $1.2 million from the MADHCD Housing Stabilization Fund

  • $1.0 million from the Boston Neighborhood Housing Trust

  • $1.4 million from the City of Boston

  • $2.9 million from The Boston Home

In addition, Capital One provided a $200,000 social purpose grant, disbursed in the amount of $20,000 a year for 10 years, to The Boston Home. The grant funds part of the salary for the resident services coordinator/case manager. The onsite resident services include fitness and social programs, caregiver training, counseling, and support for accessing community services.

It’s tough, but rewarding work, according to Tara Mizrahi, Affirmative Investment’s Vice President: “Overcoming obstacles to create a home for 36 individuals/families with disabilities, including degenerative illnesses, that allows them to be independent, active participants in their community has been very rewarding.”

The groundbreaking ceremonies in May 2019 attracted Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh as well as State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry and other elected officials. In his remarks, Mayor Walsh said, “This innovative solution for needed accessible supportive housing is a snapshot of the progress we’re making city-wide. . . . I’m proud of Boston’s commitment to this project.”

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