East Haven Apartments, 95 apartments planned by Mountain Housing Opportunities (MHO), was awarded federal housing tax credits on Thursday, August 10 by the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA).
The tax credits will generate almost $8 million in private investment for the construction of 95 affordable, energy-efficient, and transit oriented apartments on Highway 70 in Swannanoa.
East Haven was the first property approved under Buncombe County’s new Community Oriented Development ordinance adopted last year. This zoning designation allows more residential density for properties that will include affordable units, are located near transit, and have access to public water and sewer. MHO plans to provide additional pedestrian connections that will link residents safely to the Ingles supermarket shopping center located nearby.
MHO executive director Scott Dedman said that pedestrian safety and transportation will be a priority at East Haven. “We look forward to working with the Friends and Neighbors of Swannanoa (FANS) community group, with nearby residents and property owners, and with Buncombe County and the state Department of Transportation to design a safe crosswalk across Highway 70 near the intersection of Old Highway 70,” said Dedman. “Being near shopping, schools, and jobs is key to our choice of location for homes including apartments,” said Dedman, “and this brings a special responsibility for safe connections.”
NCHFA also approved additional financing of $1,250,000. The total amount of private investment and loans to be provided as part of this award is approximately $12.1 million.
Funds already approved by Buncombe County Commissioners and the Asheville Regional Housing Consortium total $750,000. This results in a leveraging ratio of over $15 of private investment and other funds brought into Asheville for every $1 of local funding.
“We want to express our deep appreciation to County Commissioners, the Regional Housing Consortium, the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency, and our private donors,” said Dedman. “They have supported our plans and shown a deep commitment to building safe, attractive, affordable homes. The working families and retirees who we serve, including veterans and people with disabilities, have a great need for these apartments in the Swannanoa Valley.”
When completed East Haven will provide safe, affordable, energy-efficient homes for 95 families and individuals, an estimated 200 or more residents. MHO estimates that at least 30-40 families with children will live at East Haven.
Only 32 proposals for housing tax credits were funded this year in North Carolina out of 155 applications statewide, demonstrating the intense competition for housing tax credits. Architectural design, location, and market need are three of the most important factors evaluated for an award. Geoffrey Barton, architect at Mountain Housing Opportunities, designed East Haven. Local firm Civil Design Concepts is working with MHO or civil engineering.
It is expected that East Haven will employ over 400 workers at different times during the 12-18 month construction period, which is expected to begin by summer 2018. Applications for apartments are expected to be available later in 2018.
East Haven will incorporate sustainable and green components including high-efficiency heating systems and lighting fixtures, low flow plumbing fixtures and Energy Star appliances.
East Haven is located on a bus line. Over 18,000 people work in jobs in East Haven’s defined market area, which extends from Oakley/Haw Creek in east Asheville to Black Mountain in eastern Buncombe County, according to MHO’s professional market study. The study estimated that more than 1,000 families or individuals in that market area need apartments with affordable rents.
East Haven will serve households with annual incomes below 60% of the Area Median Income, a guideline used in the housing tax credit program. For example, to be eligible for a similar apartment in 2017 in Buncombe County, a two person household must have income below $29,460 and a four person household must have income below $36,780. East Haven will include apartments with one, two and three bedrooms.
Mountain Housing Opportunities is a local private charitable corporation founded by volunteers in 1988. MHO has built or financed over 1,200 homes including single-family homes, town homes, condominiums and apartments. MHO has also repaired over 3,500 homes in Buncombe County for low-income elderly and disabled homeowners and homeowners with children.