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West Lebanon Apartment Complex Preserved After USDA Loan

Posted November 24, 2015

Twin Pines Housing Trust recently purchased the former Pine Tree Lane and Beechwood Lane apartments — now known as the Village at Crafts Hill — with a $6.8 million loan from the USDA Rural Development program, preserving 88 rent-subsidized units in the Upper Valley. Below is an excerpt from a WCAX report on the story:

Tenants of a low income housing complex in West Lebanon were running out of time and options. They were at risk of losing their homes, but now their worries are now over.

“Your homes have been preserved, and they’ve been preserved for the next 30 years,” said Ted Brady, United States Department of Agriculture.

Sighs of relief from the tenants of Pine Tree Lane apartments. This was news they thought would never come.

“I don’t have to move anything. Thank God,” said Anne Hughes, resident.

WCAX first met Hughes in April, just days after she and more than a hundred other tenants of Pine Tree Lane apartments received notes explaining the apartment’s rental assistance contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development was due to expire. By December 31, 2015, Hughes and all of her neighbors, either had to provide full rental payment or move out.

“I filled out applications. Waited and waited,” said Hughes.

Things weren’t looking up. Hughes said there weren’t many options for her in the Upper Valley.

“They all want more than the apartment’s worth and they want a security deposit and they want the first months and the last month’s rent. And I’m on disability, Social Security doesn’t give you a whole lot,” said Hughes.

As the December deadline inched closer, many of her neighbors moved out. Hughes says she was starting to lose hope when she got word that someone was looking out for them.

“When we heard in April that Pine Tree might be lost as affordable housing, we knew instinctively that we needed to be part of the solution,” said Andrew Winter, Twin Pines Housing Trust.

Twin Pines Housing Trust used a $6.7 million USDA loan to purchase the 50-unit Pine Tree Lane and adjacent 50-unit Beechwood Lane apartment complexes. Residents of the two complexes will receive subsidized assistance and be able to stay in their homes.

“When a community cares enough about their own well-being, their own safety and protection and their own home and hearth to come together to save it, I’m just proud to be a part of that,” said Rep. Ann Kuster, D-New Hampshire.

The name of the complex will change. It will be called the “Village at Crafts Hill.” Residents who currently live there, like Hughes, will have to update their addresses. She says compared to losing her home, that’s a minor inconvenience.

“This is beyond awesome,” said Hughes.

To view the full story, including video, click here.

For the Valley News report, click here.

 



West Lebanon Apartments Set for Sale to Twin Pines Housing Trust

Posted September 28, 2015

Valley News reports that Twin Pines Housing Trust has received initial approval from USDA Rural Development to purchase the Pine Tree Lane apartments in West Lebanon, NH. Below is an excerpt from the article.

The death last month of the owner of two subsidized housing complexes in West Lebanon will not prevent a nonprofit organization from purchasing the properties by the end of the year and maintaining them as affordable housing, federal officials say.

David Hodges Sr., 84, president of The Hodges Companies and owner of the Pine Tree Lane and Beechwood apartments, 100 units of affordable housing located on an extension of Pleasant Street in West Lebanon, died at home in New London on Aug. 16.

Hodges had notified Pine Tree residents in late March that their rental assistance would expire at the end of December. Since then, Twin Pines Housing Trust — an Upper Valley nonprofit developer of affordable housing — has been working toward purchasing the property in order to preserve the affordability of the apartments.

On Friday, Ted Brady, the director of USDA Rural Development in Vermont and New Hampshire, said his program has completed preliminary underwriting of the mortgage loan necessary for Twin Pines to purchase the properties.

The initial approval is “a critical milestone that indicates the transfer of the property from the current owner to Twin Pines will occur before rental assistance to the residents of Pine Tree Apartments expires in December,” Brady said.

Under Rural Development’s Section 515 program, the loan would allow residents to continue to receive rental assistance for up to 30 additional years, Brady said.

Brady said he could not predict how Hodge’s death might affect Twin Pines’ purchase, but “the most important part is the fundamentals of the deal have been worked out, (which) indicates we’ll get to the closing before December.”

In an email Friday, Twin Pines Executive Director Andrew Winter confirmed that his organization has received initial approval from Rural Development.

“We at Twin Pines are delighted that we have been able to step forward at a time of need, and working with The Hodges Companies, reach an agreement to keep this property affordable,” he said. “While there remain issues to complete the sale, we do not believe those issues to be significant.”

To continue reading the article, click here.

 



Affordable Housing Development Opens In Woodstock

Posted September 23, 2015

Yesterday Woodstock, Vermont’s first affordable housing development officially opened. Safford Commons consists of 28 energy-efficient rental apartments at the site of the former Grange Hall and church. Valley News reported last week on how it took less than 10 days to fill every unit in the complex, which now has a waiting list with more than 40 names on it. Read more about Safford Commons and the ribbon cutting celebration below in this article from VPR:

The first affordable housing project for the affluent Upper Valley town of Woodstock was officially opened Tuesday. The Safford Commons project has been a long time coming in an area where demand is high.

The 28 energy-efficient apartments are clustered in multi-colored cottage-like dwellings on the site of a former Grange Hall not far from Woodstock High School. Abutters to the land fought the project for over a decade, saying that duplexes and triplexes would mar the natural setting. But they lost their court battle.

“There’s nothing to fight, and there’s nothing to fear, because in Vermont we do it right,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin before triumphantly cutting a shiny ribbon strung across one of the front porches.

Funding for the $9.5 million complex came from a patchwork of public and private sources, including the Woodstock Community Trust. President Patsy Highberg said persistence and multiple partnerships have paid dividends for tenants now living affordably in an area where the cost of living is high.

“The length of our battle makes these homes around us even more unbelievable as we stand here today to welcome new and current residents to our community,” Highberg told the audience gathered under a tent.

Rents range from $600 for a subsidized 1-bedroom unit to $1,000 for a two-bedroom apartment at market price. Donna Crawford happily moved here from New Jersey with her mother after her father died. He had once been a businessman in Springfield, Vermont.

“He died in August so we decided to move back up home, bring mom back home. And … yes, she lives with me, she’s 88,” Crawford said, smiling.

The entire housing complex was fully rented in about 10 days. Andrew Winter, director of Twin Pines Housing Trust, which manages the property, says housing demand still outstrips supply.

“And unfortunately the bad news is that we’ve got a really long wait list of over 40 families that are trying to get in here that won’t be able to,” said Winter.

Eventually Safford Commons hopes to add four more units. Meanwhile, Winter says, Twin Pines is expanding affordable housing in other locations, including Hartford. The rental vacancy rate in the Upper Valley is very low, between 1 and 2 percent.

For the full article, including audio, click here. For further coverage of this event view Vermont Business Magazine‘s article here.

 



Nonprofit Seeks to Buy West Lebanon Subsidized Apartments

Posted July 2, 2015

Read this recent Valley News article for an update on Twin Pines Housing Trust‘s effort to buy the Pine Tree Lane Apartments in West Lebanon, NH. See below for an excerpt:

An Upper Valley nonprofit housing group is trying to buy two subsidized housing complexes in West Lebanon, including the 50 units at Pine Tree Lane Apartments where tenants have been told the rental assistance available to them under the current landlord will expire at the end of the year.

Twin Pines Housing Trust, based in White River Junction, is in discussions with the owner, David Hodges Sr., to also buy the adjacent Beechwood Lane Apartments to ensure that those 50 units remain affordable for the long term as well, the two parties confirmed in a joint statement.

But the lack of certainty about Pine Tree Lane’s status as of January 2016 is creating anxiety for some residents, spurring a handful to move.

The apartment complexes are located on an extension of Pleasant Street in a residential neighborhood of West Lebanon. The Pine Tree Lane residents received notice in late March that rental assistance tied to a mortgage for the property through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program is expected to expire at the end of this year.

Twin Pines this spring reached out to Hodges, a New London resident, and his property manager, The Hodges Companies, to explore a possible purchase that would allow the low-income residents — seniors, families and people with disabilities — to retain the subsidies necessary for them to remain in their homes after Dec. 31.

“The Hodges Companies and Twin Pines Housing Trust are exploring the sale of Pine Tree Lane and Beechwood Lane to Twin Pines,” the two parties said in a joint statement on June 16. “There is no certainty that the parties will be able to consummate a sale.”

A confidentiality agreement prevents Hodges and Twin Pines from discussing the matter further at this time, the statement said.

A Rural Development mortgage loan for Beechwood and associated rental assistance for residents there is not set to expire until Nov. 2028.

Andrew Winter, Twin Pines’ executive director, declined further comment on Friday, citing the confidentiality agreement. Phone messages left for Alan Johnson, chief financial officer at Hodges Cos., at his office and on his cell phone last week were not returned.

The statement from Twin Pines and Hodges may indicate the two parties have an option-to-purchase agreement in place or they may not have anything in writing yet, Bruce Waters, senior broker for Lang McLaughry Commercial, said. Waters is not involved in the transaction.

“It’s a fairly normal statement to make when two parties are trying to work out the details,” Waters, who is based in West Lebanon, said.

If they do have an option-to-purchase agreement in place, the buyer would need to do an appraisal and secure funding before progressing to a purchase and sale agreement, Waters said.

The Pine Tree Lane apartment complex is valued at $2.4 million and Beechwood Lane is valued at $2.6 million, according to city property records.

Should Pine Tree continue to be affordable housing, the Rural Development program is likely to remain a part of the funding picture, according to a key federal official monitoring the situation.

“Rural Development is actively working with Hodges and with Twin Pines to make sure they know what tools Rural Development has available to retain these vital units of affordable housing,” Ted Brady, the Vermont and New Hampshire director of the Rural Development program, said.

This year, the affordability of 60 properties across the country — totaling more than 700 units — are threatened by the maturation of mortgages through Rural Development’s Section 515 Rural Rental Housing Loans, Brady has said.

When the mortgages mature, the associated rental assistance for residents is no longer available, making the units unaffordable to most low-income residents.

 



Lack of Affordable Aousing in Upper Valley Concerns Lawmakers

Posted May 5, 2015

Yesterday, U.S. Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, D-NH, brought together stakeholders, affordable housing advocates, and community members to discuss New Hampshire’s housing needs. Below is a report from WPTZ on the issue they are facing and what lies ahead:

Representative Annie Kuster personally greeted Pine Tree Lane tenants at the Kilton Public Library in West Lebanon on May 4.

Kuster wanted to discuss the lack of affordable housing in the Upper Valley, an issue highlighted she says at the Pine Tree Lane apartment complex.

Kuster spoke to Pine Tree Lane tenants, saying, “you are our inspiration for solving the issue of affordable housing.”

In March, Pine Tree Lane residents were told that at the end of the year, their apartments will no longer be subsidized by the government. The people who live there will have to move out or pay market rates to stay.

Pine Tree Lane tenants aren’t alone. Ted Brady of the USDA said the apartment complex is 1 of about 60 affordable housing developments nation-wide with USDA loans that will be maturing this year. He said those loans help property owners provide rental assistance to their tenants.

“Your homes are the first ones in New Hampshire that are facing this natural maturation of the loan. Nationally, in the next 5 years, it just goes up and up, and in 5 to 10 years, it balloons,” Brady said.

Brady said there’s no easy solution to what he says is a growing national problem.

“We’re trying to find a way to keep these units that naturally can leave by contract in our program,” Brady said.

As for Pine Tree Lane residents, there’s still a chance they might be able to stay.

Andrew Winter, executive director of Twin Pines Housing Trust, said he’s trying to negotiate a deal to purchase the property. He says if that happens, housing assistance would likely be available.

“There are people who have lived there for 20, 30 years, this is their home. And I think were really focused on trying to keep it their home,” Winter said.

Winter said he’s still in the early stages of pursuing a deal with the Pine Tree Lane property owners, the Hodges Company. He said he hopes to have more answers within a few weeks.

Kathy McFarlin lives at Pine Tree Lane, and said she feels hopeful.

“I feel very [relieved that] there are people who are trying to work on a solution,” McFarlin said.

Kuster said she’s going to work on not only finding a solution for Pine Tree Lane tenants, but for those affected by lack of affordable housing nation-wide.

To view the full report, including video, click here.

 



Woodstock’s Safford Commons Breaks Ground

Posted October 23, 2014

Last week Woodstock Community Trust, Twin Pines Housing Trust, and Housing Vermont celebrated the start of construction of Safford Commons in Woodstock. A recent article from Valley News discusses some of the struggles they faced throughout the years to get the project started. From the article:

Since 2005, when Housing Vermont, Twin Pines Housing Trust and the Woodstock Community Trust first purchased the land, the groups have met opposition from abutters before the Woodstock Development Review Board, the Vermont Environmental Court, voters in the Woodstock Central Supervisory Union, the district’s school board and, ultimately, the Vermont Supreme Court, which finally affirmed in January its ruling that the project didn’t infringe on neighbor property rights, ending the legal battle.

Many of the make-or-break rulings along the way have been marked by split decisions, reversals and appeals, which fueled continued opposition and created more delays.

Andrew Winter, executive director of Twin Pines, said he hasn’t seen such a delay in his 19 years in the industry.

“This is one of the longest delayed affordable housing projects in the state, if not the longest in the state,” he said.

Now, the developers hope to put all of the controversy behind them.

“It’s not about the past,” said Sassorossi. “It’s about what’s coming up.”

Winter said the project will help to address a critical shortage of affordable housing in the Upper Valley, which he said has created wait lists that can keep would-be renters on hold for years.

“The reality is that the housing market in the Upper Valley is incredibly tight with vacancy rates of less than 5 percent, and for affordable units 1 to 2 percent.”

The project, once built, will help to alleviate a bit of that strain, he said.

“Being able to bring new units to a town like Woodstock is incredibly exciting because it helps people, reduces commute times and gets people into safe, attractive, energy-efficient housing,” he said.

To read the complete article click here.

 



Save the Date: Safford Commons Groundbreaking Ceremony, October 21st

Posted October 17, 2014

You are invited to join the Woodstock Community Trust, Twin Pines Housing Trust, and Housing Vermont as they celebrate the start of construction of Safford Commons on Tuesday, October 21st at 1:30PM. When complete, Safford Commons will offer 28 affordable and energy efficient new apartments. The celebration will take place at the Thompson Senior Center on 99 Senior Lane in Woodstock. RSVP by calling (802) 863-8424 or via email at dot@hvt.org.

safford

 



Twin Pines Housing Trust is Seeking an AmeriCorps Member

Posted August 18, 2014

Twin Pines Housing Trust, a not-for-profit housing developer in the Upper Valley in Vermont and New Hampshire, is recruiting for a Project Assistant AmeriCorps Member to begin in early September.  Twin Pines Housing Trust is a long-standing member of the VAHC.

Responsibilities will include assisting with renovation and property development projects, relocating tenants during renovations, and assisting with homeowner sales and marketing.  The ideal candidate will be compassionate, patient, outgoing, organized, self-directed and enthusiastic about participating in AmeriCorps.  Full-time benefits include a living allowance, education award, federal school loan forbearance, and health insurance for an 11+ month commitment.

To learn more and apply go here, or contact Holly Palmer at (802) 291-7000 or holly.palmer@tphtrust.org.  The application deadline is August 25, 2014.

twinpinesht  ac_logo

 



Rivermere units damaged by flash floods

Posted July 9, 2013

Several units in Rivermere, an affordable housing complex in Lebanon, were devastated by flash flooding over the past week. Upper Valley Strong, a committee which formed in response to Tropical Storm Irene, joined other community volunteers to help clean out units in the Twin Pines Housing Trust property. 14 of the property’s 21 units have been cleared for occupancy for Rivermere residents, while the remaining seven are still uninhabitable.

Link to Valley News Article, “Some Rivermere Residents Go Home” – July 7, 2013