2011 Awards Celebrate 19th Year of Award Program
January 20, 2012, Alexandria, Va. – For the 19th consecutive year, NAHMA has recognized the best multifamily affordable housing communities across the country for excellence in the way they manage the physical, financial and social condition of the properties. Winning member sites also are honored for the quality of life they offer residents, the level of resident involvement in community life, their financial stability, the certified quality of their staff, and the nature of collaborations with other organizations and agencies.
This year, there are five Communities of Quality®; (COQ) award categories and winners.
For the 8th straight year, the COQ awards are co-sponsored, with NAHMA, by HD SupplySM Multifamily Solutions, a leading supplier of maintenance and renovation products to the multihousing industry.
The COQ awards will be presented at NAHMA’s annual winter meeting, March 11-13, 2012, in Washington, D.C.
“It’s quite an accomplishment to be named a National Community of Quality Award winner,” said Kris Cook, CAE, Executive Director of NAHMA. “The competitive process pits outstanding properties against one another, and our independent panel of judges carefully analyzes the entries to select the ones that really stand out.”
“Anybody who looked at the entrants, and especially the winners, of the National COQ Awards program couldn’t help but be impressed with the quality of the housing and the services provided to residents,” said NAHMA President Scott Reithel, NAHP-e. “These communities are certainly great assets to their communities.”
The 2011 COQ winners are:
EXEMPLARY FAMILY DEVELOPMENT
Trolley Square Apartments
Owner: Homeowner’s Rehab Inc.
Trolley Square is a 40-unit, mixed-use development built to create an affordable housing community that utilizes both green technology and resident services to enhance the overall living experience. The mixed-income, mixed-use development consists of 32 rental units and 8 homeownership condominiums designated solely for first-time buyers.
Construction, which was completed in 2006, focused on building a property that integrated several “greening goals” in both the site and building design to create attractive, affordable, healthy and energy-efficient housing. The development includes 4,100 sq. ft. of open space on a lot of less than one acre; site landscaping that catches and reuses rainwater for irrigation; and solar energy collected to reduce electricity consumption. Every apartment home at Trolley Square has a dual flush toilet and low flow water fixtures in every kitchen and bathroom.
In addition to creating a healthy and energy efficient place to live, it has always been a priority to establish a high level of resident services for Trolley Square’s 72 residents. There are a number of programs, events and opportunities that the residents take advantage of and greatly benefit from.
These programs not only help financially but also promote opportunities for educational growth. Some of these activities include free yoga classes for woman with a history of trauma, The Center for Families playgroups, the North Cambridge Artist Association meetings, and life skills workshops for teenagers with autism. Trolley Square’s educational growth opportunities are delivered through a scholarship program that offers up to $50,000 a year to as many as 20 residents to support their pursuit of two- or four-year college degrees. In addition, Trolley Square residents are provided access to financial literacy classes to assist them with the challenges of planning and budgeting for the future. All of this takes place in Trolley Square’s spacious community room which hosts numerous groups and functions throughout the year.
EXEMPLARY DEVELOPMENT FOR THE ELDERLY
Back of the Hill Apartments
Owner: Back of the Hill Community Development Corporation
Management: The Community Builders
Back of the Hill is a 124-unit, high-rise apartment building first built in 1981. It underwent an extensive rehabilitation in 2008, making it a very attractive place to live and work. Residents have access to many amenities, including a very large patio, a community room with a large 60″ flat screen television with cable, and a pool table. The dining area resembles a French café with beautiful small round glass-top tables.
Back of the Hill Apartments is conveniently located near public transportation and is close to many of the world’s best hospitals, educational institutions and museums.
Management is always thinking about new programs, activities and health initiatives to offer its residents. These include art workshops conducted by students from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, fitness classes and guest speakers. Dental workshops are conducted by students from the Forsyth School of Dentistry (Tufts University), and there are regular visits from students in the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy.
Management recently partnered with the Cooperative Arts Institute of Boston to create the Happy Healthy Club, a socially inclusive, learning environment that taps the power of the arts, games, retreats and other social activities to inspire elders and those in our site with physical and emotional challenges to become more engaged. Back of the Hill has an extensive and constantly updated library and computer learning center.
Back of the Hill’s residents come from different cultures, which create a wonderful and interesting environment in which residents regularly enjoy dynamic guest speakers on topics such as health and wellness, nutrition management, budget and money management, and art.
OUTSTANDING TURNAROUND OF A TROUBLED PROPERTY
Leyden Woods Apartments
Owner:TCB Leyden Woods LP
Management: The Community Builders
Leyden Woods Apartments is a 200-unit, 40-year-old community of garden-style apartments that serves 197 families—including 224 children, nine seniors and 66 disabled residents. Until The Community Builders (TCB) took ownership of the property in 1996, it was a decayed campus whose buildings were extremely dilapidated. The amount of drug activity in the community was significant, and Leyden Woods was known locally as housing of last resort.
Since TCB took over, new siding, roofs, appliances, carpeting, and kitchen and bathroom upgrades have greatly improved the condition and appeal of the buildings. Conversion to natural gas and owner-paid heat was a great relief to residents. A full-time resident coordinator facilitated the effort to rid the community of drug dealers, intentionally locating the office in a unit recently used for the manufacture and sale of crack cocaine.
The resident coordinator worked with residents to provide whatever support and assistance they needed to achieve their goals, the first of which was safety. Residents began surreptitiously passing notes to the resident coordinator with the names of drug dealers and passed out hundreds of flyers with their names and pictures, enabling police to make many arrests. The resident coordinator invited the state police to use the property for training their drug-sniffing dogs, which helped solve the problem of drugs hidden in the woods around the buildings. A neighborhood watch program patrolled the site at night, along with police escorts.
As things began to improve and the site got safer, more and more residents became involved in the community—a turning point as far as TCB was concerned. They began focusing on starting a community garden, library, computer lab, Fun Club, Homework Club, food pantry, holiday parties, field trips and much more. Several years later TCB built a community center, and new services and programs are constantly being added. There are art and poetry writing classes, workforce development programs for teens, Spanish classes for all ages, and a new program designed to enhance children’s sense of self esteem and personal responsibility.
What was once a blighted, frightening, unsafe community was transformed into a setting of gardens, playgrounds and neighborhood activity in a setting of rolling hills, farmland and woods. This is a community that truly transformed itself.
EXEMPLARY DEVELOPMENT FOR RESIDENTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
Management: PRD Management, Inc.
Mullen Manor is a 25-unit complex built in 1999 under the direction of the Multiple Sclerosis Association of American and with the assistance and under the management of PRD Management, Inc. of Merchantville, N.J. Many of Mullen Manor’s residents are severely handicapped, and the staff affords them a sense of independence they would not otherwise have.
Mullen Manor is a barrier-free facility with amenities such as roll-in showers with built-in seats and grab bars, roll-under sinks and countertops for wheelchair accessibility, extra-wide doors and pull cords accessible for emergencies. There’s a community room where numerous activities take place. A newly installed gazebo overlooks a county park where the company had walkways installed for direct wheelchair accessibility into the park and to Camden Community College. Several residents have received various degrees from the college.
The Multiple Sclerosis Association offers residents the use of a van and driver for monthly trips to local attractions. Because the property is relatively small, residents have a real sense of community and are treated by all with empathy and compassion.
EXEMPLARY DEVELOPMENT FOR SINGLE-ROOM OCCUPANCY HOUSING
Owner: The Community Builders
Management: The Community Builders
The Aurora is an 87-unit, high-rise apartment building in the heart of downtown Worcester that is more than 100 years old. Originally it boasted a sparkling façade, posh lounge and large banquet hall. In its heyday it was a premier hotel where weddings and receptions took place. As the property declined in the 1950s, it was sold for salvage rights in 1982.
The Community Builders (TCBs) acquired the property and undertook a complete rehab. The property opened once again as studio apartments. Although the area around it continued to deteriorate, the Aurora quickly filled and became a safe haven. The location is convenient, the apartments in excellent condition and the community supportive. For whatever length of time residents remain, they are treated with dignity and enjoy numerous activities, including movie nights, bingo, cribbage, dominoes and an outside horseshoe pit and barbecue.
The many referrals the Aurora receives from prior residents indicate that it is among the top SROs in the state.