Affordable luxury housing is possible

The Diocesan Housing Services Corporation of the Diocese of Camden, Inc. (DHSC) owns and manages 637 “Affordable Luxury” rental housing units for very low-to-moderate income households.

It successfully developed and managed six (and soon seven) housing developments under the “Affordable Luxury” standard by using funding sources such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program.

“Affordable Luxury” means residences are efficiently developed and professionally managed beyond the “safe, decent, and sanitary” standard requirement, thus endearing resident pride and town satisfaction. Attractive, high quality, cost-effective housing development is completed by strategically staging work and leveraging limited resources. This includes finding and utilizing supplemental funding to deliver low cost amenities, social services, and a superior physical and social environment that ultimately give residents a sense of belonging and dignity when they move from their previous homes.

Properties also become income generating assets to surrounding communities. A brief overview of each DHSC development follows:

Victorian Towers (1973) in Cape May City is blocks from the beach and the first housing development by the Diocese of Camden. It was financed under the old U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 236 senior housing program. Victorian Towers has six-stories with 205 studio and one-bedroom apartments, some with ocean views and many community spaces.

In  1983, HUD’s Section 202 senior and disabled housing program funded the Village Apartments of Cherry Hill  148 garden style one bedroom and studio apartments. The nine individual two-story buildings arranged in three courts offer private entrances, parking, and community spaces in a peaceful setting. There is a community garden, and the Village Apartments interior and exterior were recently renovated.

The first family-oriented housing development is Davenport Village Apartments (2001) in Hainesport funded largely by the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program. The brick fronted garden-style development has seven buildings with a mix of 10 single-bedrooms, 29 two-bedrooms, and 17 three-bedroom apartments, with in-unit washers and dryers, dish washers, a tennis court, and a tot lot. Davenport Village sits next to a large affluent single family development that has more than doubled in value since it came on line.

Shepherd’s Farm Senior Housing (2005) in West Deptford contains 76 apartments financed by HUD’s 202 program. It is  the product of a cooperative relationship between the DHSC and two area churches. The property contains laundry facilities, community/craft rooms and a board room. It is surrounded by a market-rate active-adult single family housing community.

Stonegate at St. Stephen senior housing (2007) in Pennsauken is the first project created under the DHSC’s “Parish-Based” development strategy. By partnering with St. Stephen parish, this 76-unit HUD-202 senior housing project boasts a campus-like setting behind St. Stephen’s church and next to St. Stephen’s elementary school. The school encourages ‘intergenerational’ activities between residents and students along with an attractive building that compliments the suburban neighborhood. Other amenities including the patio and attractive lobby redefine affordable housing.

In North Cape May, Haven House at St. John of God (2008) senior housing was developed adjacent to St. John of God Church by utilizing the HUD 202 program and leveraging other dollars through the ‘Parish-based’ strategy. Professional DHSC management helps to maintain Haven House and its unique migratory habitat and dramatic entrance.  It contains 76 units, 75-one bedroom resident units and a two bedroom manager’s apartment.

Finally, just under construction and due in 2011 is the Village at St. Peter’s senior housing project  in Pleasantville. It will hold 74-one bedroom units in six stories financed by HUD 202 combined with the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program.

The DHSC’s housing developments prove luxury can be affordable for very low-to moderate income persons if done strategically. More information about the Diocesan Housing Services Corporation and its housing developments are found at www.affordableluxuryhousing.org or on Facebook.

Kwan Hui is Housing Scholar/Project Development Intern, Diocesan Housing Services of The Diocese of Camden, Inc.

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