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NALHFA Member Spotlight: Fort Worth Housing Finance Corporation

Posted By Administration, Monday, July 9, 2018
Updated: Friday, June 29, 2018

During its 2018 Annual Conference, NALHFA presented the Fort Worth Housing Finance Corporation (FWHFC) with the Redevelopment Excellence award in recognition of the Columbia at Renaissance Square. This contemporary development serves as a model on how developers partnering with housing finance agencies and cities can provide residents with better live-work-play lifestyle as well as to provide quality affordable housing options in planned communities built with purpose.

 

The 2013 Analysis of Impediments, a HUD required report on the current state of impediments to fair housing choice within the City of Fort Worth, stated that the City had an “overconcentration of vouchers, assisted housing, and lower-income housing in selected areas of the City”. This report also noted that residents in lower income areas did not have equal access to the transit system. One solution to these issues was for the FWHFC to award its first loan for Columbia Renaissance Square I, L.P. to develop, own and manage Phase I of Columbia at Renaissance Square in southeast Fort Worth. Financing included 2015 9% housing tax credits from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, a conventional loan, $700,000 loan from the FWHFC, and $1.2 million in HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) funds from the City of Fort Worth have ensured that the $24 million project is fully funded.

 

Columbia at Renaissance Square is located in the Berry Hill-Mason Heights Neighborhood Empowerment Zone and is designated a Purpose Built Community. A Purpose Built Community provides a holistic approach to helping make a positive impact and includes “a community quarterback”, typically an individual or nonprofit who leads the revitalization by engaging community members, building partnerships, securing funding, and ensuring implementation of the housing, education, and wellness components of the model as part of the community’s vision. The community quarterback helps to establish mixed-income housing opportunities, a cradle-to-college education pipeline, and community wellness facilities and programs to create a defined neighborhood.

 

Renaissance Heights Development Group acts as the “community quarterback” for this development. Renaissance Heights Development Group is working in collaboration with a group of community partners known as the Renaissance Heights United initiative. They are dedicated to the proposition that everyone deserves the opportunity to live and raise their children in communities where they can achieve their full potential.

 

The community leaders involved in the partnership include The Shoppes at Renaissance Square, United Communities, ACH Child and Family Services, Uplift Education, Cook Children’s, The YMCA, Texas Wesleyan University, North Texas Area Community Health Centers, Inc., UNT Health Science Center, Renaissance Heights, Columbia Residential, and Purpose Built Communities. Columbia at Renaissance Square is place-based and neighborhood-focused and has become a vibrant community where everyone will have the opportunity to thrive.

 

Within an approved Community Revitalization Plan, Columbia at Renaissance Square 

provides mixed-income housing opportunities 

within all phases of its development. The current phase includes an 11.15-acre property, consisting of 140 one, two, and three-bedroom rental units that range in size from 750 – 1,250 square feet. 119 of these units are affordable for low- to moderate income level households, specifically to households earning 60% or less of the Area Median Income (AMI) as established by HUD.

The affordable units include 9 floating HOME units on the property and there are 35 Project-Based Vouchers from Fort Worth Housing Solutions. Also included in the unit count are 10 Section 811 units, 8 of which have 1 bedroom and 2 that have 2 bedrooms. Social services for the tenants of these units will be provided by a local nonprofit and supported by the Fort Worth Housing Finance Corporation.

 

This development has the potential to impact hundreds of families every year, helping their kids with involvement in nearby 

after-school activities, with a walking trail throughout the community, leading to destinations such as the YMCA as well as to Uplift Mighty. Uplift Education is a free, public, college-preparatory, charter school serving grades K-12. Uplift Mighty is located immediately adjacent to the site and residents of Columbia are given admissions priority. The community also offers onsite amenities, including a play area for kids, a clubhouse, a business center, and a library made available to residents.

 

Phase 2 of this development will include 120 affordable rental units specifically for seniors and Phase 3 of the development will add an additional 140 rental units. Additional housing typologies such as townhomes, garden homes, and single family homes will be constructed with future partners in Phases 4 and 5.

 

One of the community wellness components included an agreement with YMCA that provided funding through the City of Fort Worth, in which YMCA provides reduced fees for 50 households of the Columbia at Renaissance Square, including access to additional programs like after-school and summer programs, wellness programs, and more. Residents will also have access to the new aquatic center at the McDonald Southeast YMCA, located less than a block away from Columbia at Renaissance Square, which will be accessible to all City residents. Cook Children’s has been actively engaged to ensure access to health programs as well, saying “Becoming a part of the Purpose Built Communities Network offers us a unique opportunity to collaborate in a way that would not have been possible otherwise”.

 

Columbia at Renaissance Square is within walking distance to a stop provided by The T, Fort Worth’s public transportation system, as well as the proximity to local highways, Columbia at Renaissance Square affords residents the opportunity to be closer to work, reducing commute times and travel costs, leading to increased disposable income as well as time to enjoy the area attractions and activities.

 

Congratulations to FWHFC for their outstanding work on the Columbia at Renaissance Square development!

 

Does your organization have a success story to share? Email NALHFA Policy Director, Heather Voorman at hvoorman@nalhfa.org.

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