Springfield nonprofit prepares third bid to secure funding for additional senior housing

Community Gardens development in Springfield. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Community Gardens development in Springfield. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

A Springfield nonprofit is working on its third attempt to secure funding for a project that would bring dozens of additional units of affordable senior housing to the area.

The Neighborhood Housing Partnership of Greater Springfield (NHP) hopes to secure enough state tax credits that will allow the nonprofit to began construction in 2022 on 60 one-bedroom apartments.

The project also includes a community building and transportation services for residents.

It would constitute the second phase of the Community Gardens project that aims to bring affordable senior housing to the former Community Hospital site.

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The first phase of the project was completed in 2018 and resulted in the building of 50 two-bedroom apartments sanctioned by the NHP, which is focused on sustainable and affordable housing in Springfield.

The second phase will fill the remaining space at the old hospital site on Burnett Road and East High Street. Units will also be constructed on part of the former Schaefer Middle School site.

However, in order for construction to start, the NHP is hoping to secure up to $1 million in tax credits per year over a 10-year period. The nonprofit is planning to send in their application to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency in February.

It will be the NHP’s third attempt to secure those types of tax credits for the second phase of the Community Gardens project. The last attempt was made earlier this year, but those tax credits were awarded to another project unrelated to the NHP.

The process is very competitive and the NHP has to compete with projects in much larger cities such as Cleveland and Columbus, said Tina Koumoutsos, the special projects coordinator for the nonprofit.

She said that Springfield is in need of more safe and affordable housing units.

“Every piece of research that we see about affordable housing reaffirms the need for those units,” Koumoutsos said in terms of the need for additional Community Gardens apartments.

She noted that units already constructed as a result of Community Gardens have been at full capacity.

If approved, tax credits awarded can be sold to raise money for the project. The NHP already has a $30,000 predevelopment grant for the second phase.

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Springfield commissioners approved a pledge of support for the project during their meeting on Tuesday.

The pledge includes providing up to $500,000 in federal home funds to go towards the second phase of the project if further funding is secured by the NHP.

However, the actual figure that will be allocated depends on what is needed for the project at that time, said Shannon Meadows, Springfield’s community development director.

Building the additional units are expected to cost between $11 million and $12 million, Koumoutsos said. That price is a little higher than what was previously projected due to an increase in construction materials as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, she added.

Community Gardens is designed to provide safe and affordable housing to those in the community that are over the age of 55.

The Community Gardens project seeks to provide rental units that address three tiers of income; those making 60%, 50% or 30% of Springfield’s median household income.

That number was $39,332 as of 2019, according to census estimates.

Construction for the first phase of the project began in 2017 after developers were awarded state tax credits the previous year.

By the numbers:

60 -Number of one-bedroom affordable rental units that will be constructed

50 -Number of affordable senior housing units currently at the site

$10 million - The total amount of state tax credits being requested for the second phase of the Community Gardens project