The leaders of a Lancaster-based nonprofit see a strong need for new affordable housing in Berks County and are looking to fill that market with a $14.2 million project in Robeson Township.
Housing Development Corp. Mid-Atlantic will build River Run Meadows Apartments, a 58-unit complex covering roughly 50 acres on a wooded plot between Reading and Birdsboro off Route 724.
“An affordable housing project has not been built in Berks County in 10 years,” said Claude Hicks, HDC MidAtlantic’s director of real estate development. “The need is far greater than the 58 units we will be building. The general economic climate of the U.S. has given us a lot more people who qualify for affordable housing.”
HDC will only be serving a fraction of the need for affordable housing, he noted.
Helping to spur the development is an award of $1.1 million in low income housing tax credits issued by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.
The award is part of Gov. Tom Wolf’s announcement last week to provide $40.3 million in tax credits and $5.9 million in funding to build 39 affordable multifamily housing developments throughout Pennsylvania, according to a news release. The tax credits are administered by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and were approved by its board.
The tax credits awarded to developers can attract more than $407 million of investment funding for building and rehabilitating multifamily housing offering affordable rents.
Other funds are from The Redevelopment Authority of the Berks County, which has committed $400,000 to the project, Hicks said
As part of the transaction, HDC MidAtlantic plans to set aside a portion of the site to Natural Lands Trust, a nonprofit land conservation organization focused on protecting the forests, fields, streams and wetlands in eastern Pennsylvania.
He is hoping to start construction by the first quarter of 2017 and finish in spring 2018, weather-permitting. Hicks said HDC selected a builder it has worked with in the past but does not have a signed contract. The architect is Bruce Weinsteiger of Architectural Concepts, Exton.
The development will include six residential buildings consisting of one- and two-bedroom walk-up apartments, as well as two-story two- and three-bedroom townhomes.
All units will be affordable to households earning less than 60 percent of the area median income, and more than half of the development will be set aside for individuals and families earning less than 50 percent of the area median income.
In order to increase the availability of quality, affordable housing for individuals and families living with disabilities, 10 percent of the apartments will be designed to be fully accessible and meet Americans with Disabilities standards. Also, two non-ADA units will include features for hearing and/or visually impaired households.
The company will build the apartments to meet both the Enterprise Green Communities and the Energy Star Vision 3.0 standards and will include water and energy saving devices throughout the property.
Other features include on-site laundry facilities, a community gathering space and a multipurpose athletic court for resident use.