(Posted Sept. 26, 2012)
You may have noticed something new in the neighborhood. If you take a stroll or drive by 113 and 117 S. Oak St. in London, you will see a new apartment complex that is almost complete. It is a quadplex-style building that offers four two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath apartments for hard-working families earning at or below 35 percent of the area median gross income. It will be available for occupancy in October. One of the apartments is designated handicapped accessible.
The journey to launch and finish this project was long and at times arduous but well worth the effort. The London Metropolitan Housing Authority (LMHA) board, along with its director Sal Consiglio, disturbed by the growing void of affordable housing, approached the Madison County commissioners about the possibility of using Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds ($65,000) to purchase private land for future development. The board also requested and received $70,000 to help with the cost of building demolition and other costs. Eventually, a settlement date was set and LMHA acquired the property on which to erect the building.
With the land purchase behind us, a pre-application was then filed with the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) requesting funds for the total construction of the site. A special presentation was made before the OHFA officials to explain the impetus and vision for the project (meeting the demand for attractive, affordable housing in our community) and why we needed their help to fund it (construction costs). An application was submitted to OHFA, and then the waiting game began.
Approximately six months later, a grant for $580,000 through the Housing Development Assistance Program (HDAP) was awarded and signed between LMHA and OHFA. The grant is considered to be asoft loan, which means that as long as the money is used for affordable housing over the next 30 years, the money cannot be rescinded.
There is also an important and distinct difference between the Oak Street apartments and the 100 units operated by LMHA. These apartments are not subsidized whereas, the LMHA units are. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides rent subsidies to cover the cost to operate and maintain the 100 units known as public housing. However, no agencies provide funding to operate or maintain the new South Oak Street apartments. Tenants renting these units must be able to afford the rental and utilities expenses independently.
On April 2 of this year, a groundbreaking ceremony was conducted to launch the serious business of constructing these apartments and to thank all of the organizations and individuals that were instrumental in implementing this project. Today, two years after the seeds of this idea were planted, LMHAs vision has become a reality. We hope to build more sites in the future as the need for more affordable housing remains a concern.
Applications for the apartments may be made at the LMHA office, in person, at 179 S. Main St. You may also contact LMHA at (740) 852-1888 for more information. A grand opening celebration is being planned for October. We invite you to stop by and see whats new in your neighborhood.
Laura Eldridge, London Metropolitan Housing Authority board member