Tag Archives: friendship court advisory committee

Financing the Friendship Court Redevelopment

Friendship Court montage

Pulling together the financing for affordable rental housing in general is a deeply complex endeavor.  It is not uncommon for a high-quality, mission-focused affordable rental housing development to layer 10-15 sources of funding.  The redevelopment of Friendship Court will be no different.  In fact, it will be more complex than most, given the broad set of resident-driven goals for redevelopment, including creating housing with multiple tiers of affordability and the phasing of development that prevents displacement of existing resident families.

With few exceptions, all rental housing developments have some debt once completed.  The rental revenue from a property covers those debt payments – as well as all other necessary operating costs such as staff, utility bills, building repair reserves, etc.  By definition, affordable housing communities have reduced rental revenue. However, operating costs don’t generally shrink, so the primary method for reducing operating costs to align with the available rental revenue is to decrease the debt burden.  The only way to decrease debt is to introduce front-end subsidies into the development financing.

The backbone subsidy for affordable rental community development nation-wide is Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC).  Effectively, LIHTC financing can account for as much as 40-50% of development costs.  However, LIHTC is a limited federal program, administered by individual states, and is highly competitive.

The redevelopment of Friendship Court absolutely depends on successfully winning LIHTC financing – and all the work of the Friendship Court Advisory Committee over the last year has been focused on achieving resident aspirations and winning LIHTC funding.  However, LIHTC alone is insufficient to “make the numbers work” given the depth of affordability we aim to achieve – we will need those other layered sources, too.

For two reasons, the second most crucial subsidy is local.  First, local financial support provides a meaningful layer of funding.  Second, and perhaps as importantly, we are much more competitive in the LIHTC financing competition with substantial, committed financial support from the municipality.  Fortunately, we live in a city with a strong financial commitment to affordable housing as shown by the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund (CAHF). The CAHF was wisely established more than ten years ago to support affordable housing in our community.

To successfully redevelop Friendship Court, we must close the remaining development financing gap depending largely on support from local, regional, and national foundations as well as private philanthropy.

Successfully financing a high-quality, deeply affordable rental housing community is challenging and resource-intensive. The decisively positive results, however, particularly for the families whose lives will be impacted over the ensuing decades, are unequivocal and critically necessary to address the dire need for housing affordable for low-income families in Charlottesville.

Friendship Court Advisory Committee Meets with Grimm + Parker

Grimm + Parker image

On October 26, 2017, the Friendship Court Advisory Committee held their monthly meeting at the architecture firm Grimm + Parker’s downtown Charlottesville offices. As background, the Advisory Committee is comprised of nine Friendship Court residents and six subject matter Charlottesville residents; last year, after an extensive interview process, the Advisory Committee selected Grimm + Parker to work with us through the design of the redevelopment.

This joint architect and Advisory Committee meeting took the form of a design charrette.  A charrette is a process of thoughtfully exploring design options for a site or building. In this case, the charrette focused on the Phase 1 of redevelopment for Friendship Court.

At this first design charrette, those gathered took a very close look at the details of Phase 1 of the redevelopment to better understand the options and priorities. Some of the questions posed were: What are the physical constraints of the site? What building types should be provided for residents? What are the pros and cons of different parking plans?

Grimm+ Parker charette

By the end of the meeting, it became clear that we need to find the right balance of families with different incomes to create a successful project. The group considered the values and desires of both current and potential future Friendship Court residents in conjunction with the physical design challenges. One resident member of the committee said, “We knew there was a lot involved, but really had no idea how much!”

On November 29, the group will take a bus to Washington, DC to tour three relevant housing developments there. This trip will afford a first-hand view into the way other communities have handled similar development challenges. Those on the tour will have the opportunity to ask questions and engage directly with the residents of these housing developments. The tour will hopefully become an invaluable resource to help the committee as they delve even deeper into the project details, including phasing, construction timing, and community cohesion.

Following the bus tour, on November 30, the Advisory Committee will participate in a follow up design charrette to continue to translate their aspirations and observations.

In January / February 2018, the committee will review plans that have resulted from the charrettes and site visits.  Soon after, discussions with the broader community of Friendship Court residents will take place in order to make sure everyone has a chance to provide input in shaping the new community plan.

For more information, contact Sunshine Mathon at smathon@piedmonthousing.org.


Fall Festival at Friendship Court


On Saturday, October 7, Friendship Court residents gathered for a Fall Festival and enjoyed spending time together and with surrounding neighbors.  Kids played, got their faces painted, and jumped in the bounce house while adults enjoyed music, raffles, and a variety of foods.

festival-4 festival-12Piedmont Housing Alliance staff engaged with residents, asking for their preferred way to receive information and updates and to communicate opinions and ideas, as planning for redevelopment continues. Good Neighbor Appreciation nominations were received from residents, and these people will be recognized in the upcoming Friendship Court newsletter. Residents got to speak with Piedmont Housing Alliance staff about programs and activities at the community center, including programming for children and youth, financial education sessions, and employment opportunities. Residents also got to speak with Velvet Coleman from the City of Charlottesville who is excited about her new role as Parent Connections for Preschool through 2nd grades for the elementary schools of Charlottesville. Velvet provided kids with fun school supplies.festival-21

A delicious dinner was provided by Afghan Kabob and Mel’s Cafe. Thanks to all the other partners who helped make this possible, including Cindy Pollard of Transformations (face painting), Superfun Attractions with the Yanceys (bounce house), Coria RVA (DJ), the Party Starts Here, Virginia Tent Rental, Eze Amos (photography) and Charlottesville City Schools.  A special thanks to the residents who provide ongoing guidance and leadership in the community on the Friendship Court Advisory Committee, the Youth Leadership Team, and in other roles.

Project Manager Beth Kennan said, “It was great to see so many families enjoying the Fall Festival with their neighbors. We are so fortunate to be working with this wonderful community towards improved housing and economic opportunities.”

Piedmont Housing Alliance sponsors community dinners and events several times each year, in addition to ongoing programs and activities at the community center.  To stay connected to happenings in the community, see the monthly newsletters on the Friendship Court website at www.friendshipcourtapartments.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FriendshipCourt/.

Happy Fall!

Local Media Reports on the Development of the New Friendship Court Advisory Committee

Kathy McHugh, Housing Development Specialist, Alex Ikefuna, Director of Neighborhood Development Services and Marc Norman, design team member and a recent Loeb Fellow at the Harvard School of Design

As Piedmont Housing Alliance welcomes back their design team for the redevelopment of Friendship Court this week, they also welcomed their new fourteen-member advisory committee into the pre-development process.

Today’s Daily Progress article  highlights the new members of the advisory committee, seven of whom are Friendship Court residents with the balance being made up of city officials and other experts in the industry.  The goal of the committee, which will start meeting on a monthly basis with the design team, will be to provide guidance to Piedmont Housing in two primary areas: physical revitalization and community life.

Piedmont Housing Alliance will engage residents, neighbors and community partners in an inclusive and respectful process. Our goal is to develop a mixed-income, mixed-use community that is welcoming to all,” said Frank Grosch, CEO of the housing alliance.

NBC29 also reported on the new advisory committee being formed and quoted Piedmont Housing Alliance’s CEO, Frank Grosch: “This is really all about equity and the design and development of Friendship Court. It brings together world class architects and planners with the real experts in Friendship Court and that is the people who live there,” said Grosch.

CBS19 news was also present during the first joint meeting of the advisory committee and the design team in which the process of sharing information and expertise to build bridges to the community to help create equity in the design and development of the new Friendship Court.

The design team will be holding open office hours at the community center on Tuesday, February 9, from 1:00-4:00 pm and also on Wednesday, February 10, from 2:00-5:00 pm for anyone interested in sharing their thoughts or concerns about the redevelopment process.

For more information, please contact Community Organizer, Claudette Grant at 434-295-9794 or e-mail cgrant@piedmonthousing.org.


Residents Elected to Serve Redevelopment Advisory Committee

Piedmont Housing Alliance has formed an advisory committee to help inform the redevelopment of Friendship Court in 2018. Friendship Court residents held an election on Thursday, February 4th and Friday, February 5th to choose seven representatives from their community to serve on the fourteen-member committee. The people of Friendship Court nominated all of those residents standing for election.  The seven residents elected to the committee are:

  • Sheri Hopper
  • Crystal Johnson
  • Zafar Khan
  • Betty Lowry
  • Yolanda Ross
  • Quanelius Tinsley
  • Tamara Wright

The balance of the committee is comprised of:

  • Kathy Galvin, Charlottesville City Council
  • Mike Murphy, Assistant City Manager
  • Bill Edgerton, AIA of the Oak Hill Fund
  • Sarah McLean, RN of the Adiuvans Foundation
  • Daphne Kaiser, PhD, principal of Clark Elementary School
  • Kevin White, National Housing Trust
  • Myrtle Houchens, a former resident and a member of First Baptist Church

The purpose of the Friendship Court advisory committee will be to provide guidance to Piedmont Housing in two primary areas: (1) physical revitalization and (2) community life. Members’ roles will be to develop a common vision, share information and expertise, to build bridges to the community through listening, and to review and recommend a plan for approval by the Piedmont Housing Alliance Board. The advisory committee will meet regularly with Piedmont Housing’s design team – Liz Ogbu, founder and principal, Studio O; Marc Norman, a recent Loeb Fellow at the Harvard School of Design now  in private practice; and  David Dixon, FAIA and Steve Kearney, both with Stantec’s Urban Places Group.

Piedmont Housing hopes to make the redevelopment of Friendship Court a model for the redevelopment of affordable housing across the country.

“What we do at Friendship Court has to work for the people who live there,” said Piedmont Housing’s CEO, Frank Grosch. “We are absolutely committed to preserving 150 affordable homes at Friendship Court and the Section 8 assistance that makes it affordable for the families who live there now.”

“Piedmont Housing Alliance will engage residents, neighbors, and community partners in an inclusive and respectful process. Our goal is to develop a mixed-income, mixed-use community that is welcoming to all,” said Grosch.

Grosch added, “Pairing the expertise of residents with the expertise of others in the community on the advisory committee is one step toward creating equity in the design and development of the new Friendship Court.”

Piedmont Housing Alliance is an affordable housing non-profit working in the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson counties. The mission of Piedmont Housing is to create housing opportunities and build community through education, lending and development. Piedmont Housing is a HUD-certified housing counseling agency, state-certified Community Housing Development Organization, and US Treasury certified Community Development Financial Institution.