Neighborhood focus eases development path
Long-time customer Mutual Housing Association of Greater Hartford broke ground this week on The Hub on Park, a project that has evolved over time. NeighborWorks Capital, which provided the initial $500,000 predevelopment loan, remained flexible to their changing project needs.
- The new Hub on Park development will feature 36 newly constructed and 9 preserved apartments; nearly all are LIHTC-financed, serving very low to low-income families.
- MHAGH has worked in the Frog Hollow neighborhood for 30 years; the Hub on Park is part of its five-year stabilization plan for the area.
- As the project evolved, the long-standing relationship between NC and MHAGH made it easy to stay flexible and adaptable when working on predevelopment funding needs.
"It’s so valuable because NeighborWorks Capital gets what we’re doing. We don’t have to spend a lot of time explaining strategy because they get it, they see the mission. We’re very fortunate to have a lender that is so easy to work with,” said Sarah Miner, Director of Real Estate for MHAGH.
"It’s so valuable because NeighborWorks Capital gets what we’re doing. We don’t have to spend a lot of time explaining strategy because they get it, they see the mission. We’re very fortunate to have a lender that is so easy to work with,” Miner said. "Each loan officer we get has wanted to work together in innovative ways to meet our lending needs,” Miner said, adding that they’ve worked with NC since 2004, and it’s the relationship that makes working with NeighborWorks Capital different.
The Hub on Park is on the corner of a crucial thoroughfare in a historic and predominantly Hispanic community with a mix of commercial and residential. MHAGH acquired the site of a church building first, then the three parcels around it. The development’s design will feature energy efficiency and is transit-oriented, with the CT FastTrack close. Children's Medical and Harvard Hospital provide jobs nearby.
Frog Hollow's median income is $19,000 per year, much lower than the rest of the region. Unemployment is much higher, at 23.9%.
MHAGH was organized to help keep affordable housing in Hartford. The first project MHAGH ever did was Park Terrace I in the Frog Hollow neighborhood. The area has remained in MHAGH’s focus in the 30 years since and they have developed nearly 200 apartments for low- and moderate-income households there. Miner said their developments have evolved; for example, apartments have included more bedrooms over the years to help with customer demand.
Miner said the benefits of working in the same neighborhood include getting to know the players in the area, from city resources to the community officers, as well as the amenities.
"Knowing what makes sense for this neighborhood is hugely important, too. We are creating housing that neighbors and businesses want; they want us as their neighbor because we are a stabilizing force," Miner said.
MHAGH has also renovated and updated its own developments as they age, with an eye to health outcomes, customer demand and energy efficiency.
The Mutual Housing Association of Greater Hartford, Inc. (MHAGH) was founded in 1988, when NeighborWorks® America brought together representatives of Hartford's corporate, resident, and public sectors to address the lack of permanently affordable housing in the region. At the time, the city of Hartford had very few vacant apartments, and many families were being displaced from their homes due to large-scale conversions to condominiums. For almost three decades MHAGH has developed new housing opportunities and preserved hundreds of existing affordable apartments. Today, MHAGH provides housing for almost five hundred households in six towns in Greater Hartford.