The Gainesville, Florida area caters to the students and young professionals drawn to the University of Florida. However, according to a Florida Housing Finance Corporation study, Gainesville has a severe senior housing shortage. The high demand was no surprise to the Neighborhood Housing & Development Corporation (NHDC), a highly successful nonprofit serving North Central Florida.
"It hit home when we found out that a local developer, who had finished building a senior project just two years before, said they estimated a 20-year waitlist for their units," said Corey Harris, CEO of NHDC. "We had always focused on single-family affordable housing but knew we had to do something. "NHDC already owned a piece of vacant land but we didn't have the requisite multifamily experience for a successful Florida LIHTC program application."
NHDC formed a partnership with Rural Neighborhoods (RN) in Florida City, Florida, a leader in building affordable multifamily housing. The partner's collaboration to find the highest and best use for the vacant Gainesville parcel became the vision for the Deer Creek Senior Apartments.
The partners' next step was to pull multiple layers of financing together. "We've had great support from our local lenders for hundreds of single-family homes. So, we were surprised when both organizations went looking for multifamily financing," said Harris. "After vetting all our options, we found that Community Housing Capital (CHC) provided greater flexibility, leverage, and rates for both construction and permanent financing than other lenders could provide."
CHC will combine an $12 million construction loan with a $3.6 million permanent loan. This financing gives NHDC and RN the funds to bridge in a portion of the LIHTC equity, supporting a higher LIHTC syndication valuation. The permanent loan allows for surety of financing sources post-construction. Other capital sources include a $469,000 loan from the City of Gainesville.
NHDC and RN will construct 62 senior housing units within one, five-story apartment building. All the apartments are reserved for tenants aged 55+, with seven apartments reserved for senior households earning 33% or less of the Area Median Income (AMI) and 55 apartments reserved for senior households earning 60% or less of AMI. A resident service program that includes literacy and computer training will operate at the property. Common amenities will include an elevator and a laundry room on each floor, clubhouse, multipurpose meeting room, fitness center, library, and computer lab.
Beyond filling an urgent need for senior housing, partnering with RN will give NHDC the opportunity to learn from a successful and seasoned multifamily developer. Replicating that success gives Florida one more organization creating a place to call home for some of our most vulnerable neighbors.