According to the US Census, just over 24% of the population of Northampton County, Virginia is below the poverty level. That’s strikingly more than the 11% level for the entire state or the 15% for the US as a whole. With poverty rates like that, affordable apartments are desperately needed in this county.
An existing farm labor rental housing complex in Eastville, Virginia had fallen into disrepair as its owner faced bankruptcy. According to David Annis, Director of Housing Development, Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission (A-NPDC), NCALL worked with the New Jersey bankruptcy court and USDA Rural Development to get the property turned over to Accomack-Northampton Regional Housing Authority (A-NRHA), a sister organization to ANPDC. This was not a quick process, but it was successful.
“NCALL worked tirelessly through the maze of federal requirements to help seal the deal.”
~David Annis, Director of Housing Development, A-NPDC
In 2011, ownership was transferred to A-NRHA, but there was a lot more work to do to have the property, that was built in 1995, up to modern building standards. Systems needed to be upgraded and a number of deferred
maintenance issues had to be addressed. A-NRHA applied for and received an allocation of low-income housing tax credits from Virginia Housing Development Authority in 2012. The tax credit equity investor is Virginia Community
Development Corporation (VCDC) and the total development costs were $3.6 million, with sources consisting of a Rural Development farm labor housing loan, HOME funds, and low-income housing tax credit equity.
David shared, “It’s not easy for an organization like ours to attract tax credits. They are hard to get for small rural projects. This was a very complicated deal; it took everyone to make it happen.” And roadblocks happen. For example, the owner and VCDC closed on the equity in June 2013 and progress stalled for another five months waiting for USDA’s approval to start construction. David acknowledged “NCALL convinced their contacts at the USDA Rural Development National Office to intervene and got us back on track.”
The renovations included preservation of the six apartment buildings, the rental office and community building and the playground. The exterior of the buildings had the vinyl siding replaced with brick and cement fiber siding. The apartments all had new floor coverings, new cabinets and counter-tops and more units were made handicapped accessible. It was a total renovation down to and sometimes including the drywall.
The energy efficiency of the development was also a top priority, which earned the development a certification from EarthCraft of Virginia, and included all new Energy Star appliances, hybrid water heaters, and super-efficient 19 SEER heat pumps. As a result of these improvements, the families at William Hughes are seeing total electric bills of under $75.00 per month.
By November of 2014, the project was complete. The residents of William Hughes Apartments now have affordable and efficient apartments in which to live.
NCALL's housing development team provides its expertise to nonprofit organizations seeking to develop and/or preserve affordable housing that serves low-income families, the elderly, and farmworkers.
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