The National Affordable Housing Management Association (NAHMA) announces the winners of its annual Affordable Housing Vanguard Awards. These awards recognize newly developed or significantly rehabbed affordable multifamily housing communities that showcase high-quality design and resourceful financing.

The excellence exhibited throughout these multifamily developments belies the notion that affordable housing cannot be assets to their communities. Vanguard Award winners deliver powerful proof that affordable housing done well can transform neighborhoods as well as the lives of individual residents.

Winners of the Affordable Housing Vanguard Awards will be recognized at an awards ceremony at the NAHMA Biannual Top Issues in Affordable Housing 2022 Fall Conference in October in Washington, D.C.

The 2022 winners are:

Vanguard Award for New Construction
*Small Property (less than 100 units)
Avena Bella II, Turlock, Calif.; Management Company: EAH Inc.; Owner: Avena Bella II LP, Turlock, Calif.
*Large Property (more than 100 units)
Broadway Cove // 735 Davis, San Francisco, Calif.; Management Company: The John Stewart Company; Owner: BRIDGE Housing // The John Stewart Company, San Francisco, Calif.

Vanguard Award for Major Rehabilitation of an Existing Rental Housing Community
Royal Oak Manor Co-op, Royal Oak, Mich.; Management Company: CSI Support & Development Services; Owner: Royal Oak (CSI) Non-Profit Housing Corporation, Warren, Mich.

Vanguard Award for Major Rehabilitation of a Historic Structure into Affordable Rental Housing
The Machon, Swampscott, Mass.; Management Company: Peabody Properties Inc.; Owner: B’nai B’rith Housing, Brighton, Mass.

The Vanguard Awards:

  • Demonstrate that exceptional new affordable housing is available across the country;
  • Demonstrate that the affordable multifamily industry is and must be creative and innovative if such exceptional properties are to be built given the financial and other challenges to development;
  • Highlight results of the private/public partnerships required to develop today’s affordable housing; and
  • Share ideas for unique design and financing mechanisms with industry practitioners to further stimulate creative development in the affordable multifamily industry.

The judges of this year’s Vanguard Awards were distinguished NAHMA members from across the country: Noel Gill, NAHP-e, SHCM, CPO, executive vice president of Northwest Real Estate Capital Corp.; Jim McGrath, SHCM, NAHP-e, chairman of the board of PRD Management Inc.; Gianna Richards, SHCM, NAHP-e, president of Solari Enterprises Inc.; and Timothy Zaleski, SHCM, NAHP-e, immediate past president of NAHMA.

A brief summary of the award-winning developments follows.

Avena Bella II

Avena Bella II

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Avena Bella II is a new affordable housing community in Turlock, Calif., completed on Dec. 21, 2020. It comprises 61 apartment homes—22 two-bedroom and 17 three-bedroom units—for extremely low, very low- and low-income individuals and families. Twenty-nine of the apartments are designed as accessible for persons with mobility, special needs, and visual or hearing impairments. Households containing at least one person with such impairment have priority for those units.

In addition, Avena Bella II is a LEED-certified community that features access to a shared swimming pool, a picnic area, drought-resistant landscaping, bicycle storage, a community garden, and a play structure that is surrounded by a picnic area and an Astroturf play area, which supports a reduction in water usage.

The development of Avena Bella II would not have been possible without collaborative efforts and funding. EAH Housing used 9% federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) awarded from the state; lenders were Wells Fargo Bank, the city of Turlock, HOME Consortium of Stanislaus County, impact fee deferral for Stanislaus County, state funding from the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program and California Community Reinvestment Corporation (CCRC).

This project was built to complete a second and final phase of two 100% affordable residential communities, restricted to households earning between 30%-60% of the area median income for Stanislaus County. This community was built to meet the affordable housing needs in the Central Valley, specifically in Turlock.

This need to provide affordable housing was successfully achieved and within budget by timely completion of the project itself and the swift occupancy of the project’s 61 affordable and accessible units, despite being in the midst of holidays, the pandemic, and its associated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) social distancing requirements. To achieve 100% occupancy by the required deadline, many adjustments to traditional leasing efforts were made to accommodate CDC social distancing and safety practices. Instead of paper applications, within a couple of months, management moved to full online applications and provided virtual assistance for applicants struggling with navigating through the new platform. Also, management used the neighboring sister community’s computer lab, services office, manager’s office, and community room to allow for multiple eligibility interviews and lease signing appointments, up to 20 per day. Additionally, management conducted virtual appointments for individuals affected by COVID. Management worked after hours to offset the time spent on these appointments during the day to ensure the timely processing of their files. EAH Housing also accommodated move-in and eligibility appointments after-hours as needed. Lastly, the leasing team was indirectly impacted by exposure to COVID and, as a result, were unable to report to work during the lease-up period.

Since achieving 100% occupancy, the property management has faced challenges in managing some households that are not accustomed to neighbors in such proximity. Some of this is due to their prior living experiences (e.g., chronically homeless, multiple families living in one room, etc.).

Management has found that some of these households become territorial for common areas space, and they lack familiarity with general housekeeping practices. This creates challenges in keeping the common areas clean and contributes to receiving complaints from residents regarding other neighbors. This challenge is overcome by increasing the time spent on property walks, cleaning common areas, and frequent communication and collaboration between resident services and the management team.

Programming for Avena Bella II has been instrumental in the effort to maximize resident engagement. The “Stay Well” spring focus was to engage residents in an active life through various ongoing programs. These included a morning walking club, in-person Zumba classes, and monthly youth and family game days. The resident services department pairs the active living opportunities with educational material shared with families. During the activities, resident services personnel discuss and share healthy recipes, mental health information and access.

In addition, a gardening club was launched in May 2022. Residents look forward to meeting monthly to discuss and share gardening tips, strengthen neighbor relationships, and receive kits with tools, seeds and guidance from the resident service coordinator.

Avena Bella II also has an ongoing partnership with Interfaith Ministries that ensures all families seeking lunch and meal support are provided with hot meals Monday through Friday. All of the residents and day visitors can benefit from hot, ready-to-eat lunches and snacks on a grab-and-go basis.

Avena Bella II established a new partnership with Gateway Community Church to provide monthly nutritious food to all residents seeking additional groceries and staple items. While this partnership provides consistent access to food, residents seeking spiritual support could also benefit from accessing prayer, spiritual guidance, and other community resources. Slowly, the partnership is evolving to include additional support to all Avena Bella II families through periodical clothing closets.

Education continues to be a priority with youth homework assistance and activities, which are offered weekly. Tutoring sessions are provided for kindergarten through sixth, and high school youth support and re-engagement are now on the rise.

A partnership with Shooting Stars Entrepreneurship camp for youth in seventh through 12th grade to have the opportunity to create their business plan, showcase their business and receive a new laptop upon completion. Classes will be offered in the computer lab, and we hope to continue to partner in providing this program to other youth in the future.

Broadway Cove // 735 Davis 

Broadway Cove

Broadway Cove

735 Davis Street

735 Davis

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The vision behind Broadway Cove and 735 Davis was to repurpose public lands to create a multigenerational, mixed-income housing community along with neighborhood-serving retail space that enhances and compliments the existing neighborhood. Additionally, the development saw to provide replacement units for residents relocating from public housing, and a sustainable and responsible housing option for residents of the community who may otherwise be priced out.

Located a block from the Embarcadero in San Francisco’s Northeast Waterfront Historic District, Broadway Cove and 735 Davis provide a total of 178 new units of affordable housing, on-site child care and neighborhood-serving retail space. Together, the properties create an innovative, affordable and inclusive community serving residents ranging from formerly homeless seniors to moderate-income families (those earning between 80%-120% area median income). Over 30 of Broadway Cove’s 125 apartments are supported by Project-Based Section 8 Vouchers that house residents of the HOPE SF Potrero public housing site who have accepted the opportunity to relocate. 735 Davis’s 53 apartment homes for seniors include apartments set aside for formerly homeless individuals and are available for seniors earning 30%-70% of area median income (AMI), with 28 units supported by city-sponsored subsidy programs to ensure deeper affordability.

With a particular focus on meeting the housing needs of the surrounding neighborhood, of the 129 units available through the affordable housing lottery, 40%, or 51 homes, were open to applicants with the Neighborhood Resident Housing Preference. Because of this preference, families could stay in the neighborhood they knew but would typically be priced out of.

The many amenities available to residents include a community room with a full kitchen, on-site resident services, bike parking, on-site laundry, a second-floor terrace at Broadway Cove, and a landscaped rooftop with lounge terrace at 735 Davis. The two developments collectively feature approximately 9,800 square feet of retail/commercial space for neighborhood-serving uses, including a 55-slot mixed-income child-care center operated by the YMCA of San Francisco. There is also a 9,500-square-foot mid-block walkway publicly accessible between the two sites, with landscaping and seating. The Chinatown YMCA provides resident services at Broadway Cove, and Lutheran Social Services (LSS) is offering supportive services for seniors at 735 Davis.

While LSS delivers high-quality programs and services to all seniors at 735 Davis, they also focus on providing intensive case management services to the 15 formerly homeless seniors who are placed through the Department of Public Health Direct Access to Housing program. The focus is to provide various interconnected supportive services to meet their specific needs while encouraging independence, growth, self-determination and self-sufficiency.

Before the affordable housing development was built, 88 Broadway served as a surface parking lot owned by the Port of San Francisco on a parcel that the Embarcadero Freeway formerly occupied. 735 Davis is a former San Francisco Public Works parking lot transferred to the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) through the city’s surplus land ordinance to make developable sites available for affordable housing on public lands.

In 2018, then-California Assemblymember David Chiu authored Assembly Bill 1423 to permit the city to build affordable housing at 88 Broadway. The bill also clarified that 88 Broadway could include a child-care facility and a ground-floor restaurant.

In October 2018, Mayor London Breed announced a $1.5 million investment to ensure 735 Davis would be affordable to very low-income seniors through the Senior Operating Subsidy program. The funding cuts rents in half for 13 senior housing units. Additionally, 15 units are supported by the Local Operating Subsidy Program, part of the mayor’s Homelessness Recovery Plan.

Developing affordable housing for middle-income households is challenging due to the lack of government subsidies as Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs) only apply to projects that support 60% AMI and below. For Broadway Cove’s “missing middle” apartments, it is the first time the city has provided subsidies for non-tax credit units. This variety of rent levels is based on the needs of families and seniors and out of a desire to serve a broad spectrum of incomes. Another challenge was managing a mixed-income community with a single-application process. Serving an extremely diverse group of applicants with different income levels and matching them with specific unit requirements made it essential for the team to tailor expectations and value propositions for potential residents.

To work with the LIHTC program’s next available unit rule, the team created a condo structure that allowed the affordable family units at or below 80% AMI to be subdivided from the family moderate-income units at or above 100% AMI, thus allowing these moderate-income units to be excluded from the tax credit rules while keeping them within the same physical structure. The team received approval from the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee to implement this concept.

Major financing for Broadway Cove and 735 Davis includes a multimillion dollar investment for building construction from MOHCD, enabling the combined projects to move forward. In addition to the city’s investment, Bank of America, the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, and Barings Multifamily Capital LLC contributed to 88 Broadway, while the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco contributed to 735 Davis.

Broadway Cove // 735 Davis celebrated its residents throughout May 2022 through Resident Appreciation activities weekly. The goal was to continue providing activities and services that fulfill and support the resident’s well-being, personal growth, and residency.

Royal Oak Manor Co-op

  Royal Oak Manor Co-op

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CSI developed Royal Oak Manor (ROM) Co-op in 1973, using Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Section 236 program. The 243-unit property maintains a 50-unit Section 8 contract. The residents cooperatively manage ROM with professional support from CSI. The project is in downtown Royal Oak, Mich., a thriving, walkable community. This service-rich neighborhood is excellent for seniors: full-service shopping, including grocery, pharmacy, medical, and public transportation, are steps away.

Because ROM’s affordability restriction expired in 2018, the primary project goal was to recapitalize and preserve the property while maintaining affordable rents in an increasingly high-rent area. In 2019, CSI’s development team started working toward this goal.

The renovation included redesigning the HVAC system to provide individual unit controls; installing new unit kitchens and baths; improving building accessibility and safety; reconfiguring all common area spaces to improve social service delivery, and to create better functioning building spaces; and increasing on-site parking.

Furthermore, CSI met with city officials to ensure the plan complimented the city’s development efforts. To accomplish the city’s goals, a significant investment was made in the building’s aged façade. The color scheme and design were updated to complement other recent developments and enhance the city’s main downtown artery, where ROM is located.

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) and HUD were highly supportive, and their financing allowed for significant project investment with the minimal financial impact on existing residents. HUD processed a Mark-Up-to-Market of the existing 50-unit Section 8 contract, providing an increase to post-rehab market rents. MSHDA designated CSI as a Certified Housing Development Organization (CHDO). As a result, MSHDA was able to provide a construction loan, first mortgage, and HOME-CHDO set aside funds for the project.

After construction started, ROM acquired an additional 55 units of Section 8 subsidy from another metro Detroit senior property. This budget authority transfer, supported by the local HUD office, was recently approved by HUD Headquarters. Additional subsidies covered all inflationary cost overruns, construction scope was expanded and the vital rental subsidy was preserved for area seniors.

There were three significant project development challenges: affordability, relocation, and supply chain and employment disruptions.

Affordability: As a Section 236 property with a partial Section 8 contract, over 190 tenants paid Section 236 “market rents,” which CSI maintained at an affordable level to those earning between 30% and 40% of the area median income. The significant challenge was completing a large-scale multimillion dollar renovation without rent burdening residents. The challenge was met by 1) obtaining HOME-CHDO set aside funds, 2) creating a four-year rental subsidy reserve for existing residents, and 3) securing 55 additional units of Section 8 subsidy to support residents.

Relocation During the Pandemic: The project was constructed during the height of the COVID pandemic, and the primary goal during unit renovations was to keep residents/members safe. Although no one was permanently relocated from the property, all 243 units received new kitchens and baths, and 12 units were gutted to create fully accessible units. Private hospitality suites were created, offering a safe place for residents to stay while their unit was being renovated. Strict cleaning protocols ensured that each hospitality suite was sanitized between residents. Additionally, CSI held on-site COVID vaccination clinics.

Contractors, management staff, and residents coordinated closely, and as a result, there were no reported cases of resident COVID infection linked to the construction team.

Supply Chain and Employment Disruptions: This project overcame several unique challenges from unpredictable material availability to construction staffing shortages. The project experienced impacts related to supply shortages, including a five-month delay in procurement of roofing materials and sourcing alternate components for the e-call system to resolve a chip shortage issue. Construction staffing was challenged by subcontractors battling with a substantial industrywide shortage of skilled tradespeople and required multiday COVID isolation/quarantines. All obstacles were overcome through the creative thinking of the entire development and construction team. However, these challenges added four months to the construction schedule without financial penalty.

CSI’s cooperative management system promotes resident engagement. It reduces social isolation among seniors, vitally important as social interaction significantly contributes to seniors’ ability to age in place and remain in good health.

On floors 2-11, common area balconies were enclosed to provide larger community floor lounges, and on the first floor, a multipurpose room with a library was added. These new meeting areas provide adequate meeting spaces for ROM’s volunteer leadership, thus promoting the property’s cooperative management system. A “sundry” shop was created where the building volunteer leadership offers basic home essentials, cold beverages, and nonperishable food items.

The project’s design also enhanced resident safety and improved access to social services, ensuring residents can safely age in place. First, two service coordinator offices were constructed in convenient first-floor locations. Second, an e-call system connecting to central third-party monitoring was installed. Third, a new project van with a wheelchair lift will be purchased for the building’s residents. Lastly, the building’s wellness room was expanded, and new commercial-grade exercise equipment was purchased to encourage resident health and wellness.

Before the property’s renovations, on-site parking was inadequate for all residents, and many were required to park off-site at a significant charge. To alleviate this shortage, CSI assumed a city lease of railroad property onto which CSI expanded its adjacent parking lot by 23 spaces.

Another project feature was the intense focus on redesigning the building’s HVAC system to improve energy efficiency and resident comfort. The new system is estimated to reduce energy costs by 16% in the first year of operations.

Completing this project during a pandemic required significant changes in the cooperative management approach and resident communication strategy. Before construction, CSI purchased tablets for the building’s volunteer leadership. CSI held weekly zoom meetings for all residents to discuss construction schedules and updates. At these weekly meetings, residents also made choices on color schemes, flooring material, cabinet design, and common area décor and furnishings. This communication was instrumental in ensuring that construction proceeded smoothly with minimal impact on residents.

Royal Oak Manor’s resident leadership remained active and engaged throughout the two years of the pandemic and the entire duration of the building’s renovation.

The biggest property management challenge was managing the renovation of a senior building during a pandemic. The management team rose to the challenge and quickly revised operating procedures to protect the health and safety of all residents during the health emergency.

While managing the property during a major renovation, the management team organized and staffed five COVID vaccine clinics and monthly testing. Service coordinators were instrumental in continuing monthly commodity and weekly mobile grocery delivery safely and efficiently during the construction period.

Although in-person programs were halted during the early days of the pandemic, ROM continued these trainings and programs virtually.

ROM maintains 19 committees, including leasing, maintenance, and finance, comprised solely of volunteer members. These committees and the elected building council make daily decisions regarding managing their cooperative. Residents/members of ROM can vote for and be elected to CSI’s Board of Directors, which charts the strategic direction for the entire CSI organization.

Empowered by the cooperative management, the members have guided ROM’s renovation to meet their needs better. For example, the newly created sundry shop, which provides essential nonperishable items for residents to purchase conveniently, was a member-driven initiative.

ROM remains a stable presence in the community with an updated façade to ensure the building continues to be an attractive buffer between a commercial district and a residential neighborhood. To further support the downtown community, 23 new on-site resident parking spots were added, freeing up spots in other city parking lots for residents and businesses.

Royal Oak Manor has been a stable presence in the Royal Oak community for the past half-century. It has made this increasingly prosperous and service-rich community accessible to lower-income seniors. The renovation will meet the ever-changing needs of today’s seniors and will maintain its community presence for the next 50 years.

The Machon

  The Machon

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The Machon Elementary School, a large masonry building built in 1920 with an addition built in 1960, in Swampscott, Mass., provided education to local children in grades kindergarten-fifth for 87 years. The school, which had fallen into disrepair, was shuttered in 2007 due to budgetary issues. The school sat empty on Burpee Road for over eight years.

The town of Swampscott recognized a growing need for affordable senior rental housing. In 2016, B’nai B’rith Housing (BBH) was selected by the Swampscott Board of Selectmen to redevelop the former school into 38 one-bedroom units of senior affordable rental housing. Permits were received in the fall of 2017, and state funding was approved in July 2019, clearing the way for construction to begin. In June of 2021, construction was complete, and lease-up began for a fully occupied building in August 2021.

The redevelopment of the newly named “The Machon” apartment community preserved the original 1920s building, replaced the 1963 addition, and featured landscaped site design emphasizing a strong green connection between the site, the neighborhood, and public open space. The original architectural details were preserved, and a brand-new addition was created. Each apartment home was designed with seniors in mind. Most importantly, it helped fulfill the need for affordable senior housing in Swampscott.

B’nai B’rith Housing built a team of partners to obtain financing to redevelop the former elementary school into an affordable senior housing community. Their tax credit investor, CREA LLC, specializes in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. For federal tax credits, BBH partnered with the Department of Housing and Community Development, which provides affordable housing options, financial assistance, and other support to Massachusetts communities through its community and business partners. Other partners included The Farnsworth Trust, Boston Private / Silicon Valley Bank, Northshore Home Consortium, and the Town of Swampscott Home.

While the development was completed within budget, the project did experience COVID delays relating to supply chain issues and temporary site shutdowns.

One major challenge in redeveloping the site was how to blend the historical aspects of a former school with the current requirements of a modern-day apartment community.

The redevelopment team took care to preserve the former elementary school’s historical features. Rehabilitating the historic exterior involved repairing the copper cornice and rebuilding sections of the deteriorated façade.

Working closely with the Swampscott Historical Commission, the defunct windows were replaced with historic aluminum replicas, slate chalkboards were salvaged and used as decorative interior elements, and original wood doors were reclaimed as a screen wall in the main entry lobby. The project complied with the Stretch Energy Code and followed EnergyStar Homes.

Additionally, the project occurred during the height of COVID, with supply chain issues, labor staffing, and site shutdowns slowing down the process at every turn. The team navigated the ever-changing scope of work and completed the redevelopment on time, within budget, and in less than two years.

Major innovative design features include the 17,383-square-foot new addition, which complements the original school by echoing its cornice and window groupings. In contrast, the new façade utilizes cement fiber panels and brick veneer to provide a visual connection to the historic structure. Shallow bay windows were employed as a design element to delineate residential use.

Reimagining the existing two-story auditorium, the team designed and inserted a third structural floor to create the needed volume for the community’s library and screening room. The main entrance of the existing school sat several feet above grade and was reconfigured to provide a new focal point and accessible entry for residents.

This is B’nai B’rith Housing’s first project with Wi-Fi across the entire community. BBH recognized the importance of digital accessibility, especially during COVID, when residents needed to rely heavily on the internet to stay virtually connected to their family, friends, doctor’s appointments, etc.

The Machon is professionally managed by Peabody Properties, and despite front-end construction delays, the Peabody Properties team successfully leased the project on time.

With the community now established, the Peabody management team is devoted to success by creating an exceptional senior living environment focused on resident services.

The Peabody Resident Services in Housing Model starts with a team approach between management and resident services. The goal is to promote successful tenancies for residents by linking them to the supportive services they may need to assist with lease compliance, benefit well-being, and support aging in place. Resident quality of life is enriched by coordinating on-site educational, wellness, and social programs and activities that foster community-building.

For many seniors, transitioning from their long-term family home into an apartment can be difficult and filled with emotion and change. For many of The Machon residents, this is their first move in an exceedingly long time. The on-site team at The Machon works closely with each resident for a smooth, comfortable transition.

The apartment homes at The Machon were explicitly designed with seniors in mind. Apartment amenities include fully equipped kitchens, EnergyStar appliances and energy-efficient windows, individually controlled heating and A/C, heat and hot water included, open and airy living spaces, cable and internet ready, free Wi-Fi, pet friendly, smoke-free community, access controlled and on-site parking.

The Machon offers living like no other, with plentiful community amenities and programming that provide residents with opportunities to lead active lifestyles. Community amenities at The Machon include a community room with a grand fireplace, a library and screening room, laundry facilities, a mailroom, and a fitness center.

A full-time on-site service coordinator connects residents to area resources and service providers and facilitates social, cultural, and wellness activities.

Some of these innovative programs include bi-weekly “Coffee Hours” with guest speakers such as community service agencies, Swampscott Police Department, weekly chair yoga and tai chi, fun holiday events like Brunch & MOMosa’s, a Mother’s Day event and Spring Fling and monthly birthday cards.

In addition to on-site events and activities, Peabody Resident Service’s collaboration and partnerships with community-based providers are essential to being a good neighbor in Swampscott and seek to connect residents to local resources and services. The approach to program development is resident and stakeholder inclusive, and together, they aim to bring the community in by accessing program and grant funding opportunities.