October 18th, 2007, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Regional Director Taylor Caswell joined Maine State Housing Authority (MaineHousing) officials to tour an affordable housing project in Augusta that is the result of a unique partnership among federal, state and non-profit agencies.
Bread of Life Ministries, a nonprofit interdenominational organization that provides services to homeless individuals, began renovations this week at Westman Village, 30 units of rental housing units for low-income residents and formerly homeless individuals. The property, which was formerly managed by Arch Alpha and subsidized by HUD, is now owned and operated by Bread of Life Ministries.
“Preserving units that are affordable to low and moderate income residents is a major priority at HUD,” said Caswell. “What we have been able to accomplish with this very creative solution to two challenges is truly amazing. This may set the precedent for other housing developments across the country.”
In 2004, Bread of Life Ministries was awarded funding from HUD to create five units of transitional housing for homeless individuals. The $320,000 in grants was awarded under HUD’s Continuum of Care program, which provides funding for homeless programs. Due to repeated opposition in several neighborhoods, finding a site was difficult. After years of not being able to find a location for the five units of transitional housing, the funding was in jeopardy of being recaptured, something nobody in HUD wanted to do. To help save the funding to create the units, HUD staff worked with Bread of Life Ministries on exploring options for sites.
Arch Alpha, a 30-unit HUD-subsidized property in Augusta was falling into a state of disrepair due to lack of financial resources on the part of the owner. The original developers were an organization of church groups – the Augusta Regional Church Housing (ARCH) organization. HUD and MaineHousing, which financed the original Arch Alpha in 1972, worked with the two non-profit agencies to determine the feasibility of having Bread of Life Ministries use the HUD funding to renovate vacant units at Arch Alpha to use for the transitional housing. After several discussions, it was determined that Arch Alpha would be absorbed by Bread of Life Ministries. MaineHousing provided a restructured financing package and the savings will be combined with the HUD homeless funding to renovate the property.
“This unique partnership is bringing new life to an older development,” said MaineHousing Director Dale McCormick. “I am very pleased we could contribute towards continuing this affordable housing with a new non-profit, and that it now will include some apartments specifically targeted to people who are homeless.”
When construction is finished, Westman Village will result in 25 subsidized housing units and five units of transitional housing. Bread of Life Ministries Executive Director John Applin was pleased that after over a year of negotiating the transfer, the transaction has been finalized. “This is an exciting moment for Bread of Life Ministries. It is a unique opportunity for our faith-based organization to continue the good work started over 30 years ago by the ARCH board. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to expand our mission while preserving much needed affordable housing in Augusta,” he said.
HUD is the nations housing agency committed to creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development, and enforces the nation’s fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov.