Two Loans to Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services Preserve Rural Senior Apartments

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To provide much-needed affordable housing to seniors in rural Ovid, NY, NeighborWorks Capital provided a $2.4 million acquisition loan and $424,000 unsecured predevelopment loan to Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services (INHS). We were able to close in late March, despite the disruptions to normal operations due to the COVID-19 health pandemic.

Verona Village

Our first loan to INHS will go to acquire and renovate Verona Village, 46 one-bedroom apartments in six buildings on 15 acres. It is the only affordable senior housing within 15 miles, with affordability at 60% AMI ($31,000). The property also includes a community room with a laundry and office for maintenance and property management staff. 

Need is high, and Verona Village is fully leased. Its Section 8 HAP contract renewed in 2018; 100 percent of the apartments have the rent subsidy. The property is well-managed but needs upgrades, including kitchens, bathrooms, flooring, and accessibility improvements.

INHS will refinance and renovate the property, improving energy efficiency, reducing maintenance costs, and improving the lives of the tenants. For the renovation work set to begin in 2022, it plans to apply to New York State for Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and subsidy financing.

“The mix of acquisition financing and a predevelopment loan to help with the cost of developing a refinancing/renovation strategy was key,” said Joe Bowes, INHS Director of Real Estate Development. “The design, engineering, and third-party reports necessary to apply to New York can cost between $250,000-$500,000 so having a predevelopment loan from NeighborWorks Capital to cover those costs was critical.” 

INHS is experienced with LIHTC deals, completing four in the last five years.

INHS at the 2019 Ithaca City Apartments ribbon cutting.

“We provided financing on a flexible timeline to match the HUD approval process to reassign the existing HAP contract,” said NeighborWorks Capital Senior Loan Officer Emily Dorfman. “This is our first loan to Ithaca NHS, and we look forward to continuing to work together.”

Verona Village has provided high-quality affordable apartments to seniors in Ovid, NY, for 37 years. Ovid’s population is 2,166 and is the county seat of Seneca County, population 34,400. While the area is rural, a grocery store, pharmacy, and primary care center are within one mile of the property. The largest employers in the region are healthcare, education and wholesale/retail trade industries.

In addition to Verona Village, INHS recently completed a $20.9 million preservation of the Ithaca City Apartments. The project rehabilitated 31 existing buildings across 17 separate sites to preserve 98 mixed-income rental homes. Most of the buildings were constructed as single or two-family homes before 1900, later converted to multi-family use prior to acquisition. INHS is currently renovating another 16 apartments and building 47 new -13 in Ithaca and 34 in Watkins Glen.

Responding to COVID

The health and safety of INHS’ clients, residents, staff and community partners is critical to the organization, Bowes said. INHS is complying with New York’s order to remain at home, its office closed. They are operating at a limited capacity, with open lines of communication to its clients, tenants and community, including through their Facebook and Instagram. They have switched some services to virtual or online. Their website details specifics, and they offer a COVID resources page.

About Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services

Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services (INHS) is a 501I(3) corporation established in 1976 to revitalize Ithaca’s downtown neighborhoods and promote affordable housing. Over the past four decades, INHS has significantly expanded its services, service area and resources, including in 2015 affiliating with Better Housing for Tompkins County (BHTC), another affordable housing nonprofit. Today, INHS operates a comprehensive array of housing programs in seven counties in the Central New York and Finger Lakes regions. INHS also offers a number of loan programs, closing over $60 million in residential mortgage loans to homeowners and rental developers. They provide homebuyer education, real estate development, rental housing management, and repairs programs. Its Breckenridge Place and Cedar Creek Apartments won Pride of Ownership Awards from the Ithaca Rotary Club, and Breckenridge Place won the American Institute of Architect’s Southern New York Design Award.  Most of INHS’s developments are certified LEED by the USGBC, and two are certified LEED Platinum. 

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