Twin Pines Receives Funding

Valley News Staff Writer
Saturday, March 17, 2018

West Lebanon — A nonprofit developer of affordable housing in the Upper Valley has secured the final financing necessary to begin construction of a 29-unit apartment building on Tracy Street.

New Hampshire Housing has awarded the White River Junction-based Twin Pines Housing Trust with $648,235 in low-income housing tax credits, the sale of which is expected to generate $5.7 million for the project, the organization announced in a news release on Thursday.

“We’re delighted, obviously, to have received this award,” Twin Pines Executive Director Andrew Winter said.

Twin Pines has received most of the major permits for the $7 million project, Winter said. The organization has applied to the city for a demolition permit to raze two single-family homes on Tracy Street and a building permit for the new three-story building that will include 19 one-bedroom and 10 two-bedroom units, he said.

Construction is expected to begin this summer on what Winter said will be the first “net-zero” affordable housing project in the state. Electric panels installed on the roof will provide sufficient energy to support the building’s needs for functions such as heating, air conditioning and hot water, he said.

The project replaces an earlier version, which would have sat on Main Street and included an office space for a nonprofit, because Twin Pines was unable to obtain financing for that plan. Some neighbors also had raised objections.

Broadly, the Tracy Street project is aimed at addressing a housing shortage, which employers in the Upper Valley have blamed, at least in part, for their shortage of workers.

In general, the Upper Valley has a less than 3 percent vacancy rate, Winter said. The vacancy rate for affordable units is even lower.

Because it is seen as a partial remedy to this problem, the Tracy Street project is supported by city and business leaders.

“The city has a serious issue with the lack of affordable housing,” City Manager Shaun Mulholland said.

Mulholland described the Tracy Street project as a step in the right direction and said he hopes to continue to work with Twin Pines and other partners to continue to expand housing options for low- and moderate-income individuals and families.

The issue of housing is “one that the city needs to work with the private sector to solve,” he said.

Mascoma Savings Bank has supported the project by adjusting property lines, granting a right of way, and selling and giving Twin Pines some land near the Tracy Street lots, Mascoma CEO Clay Adams said.

“We’ve tried to be very cooperative,” said Adams, who pointed to the dearth of housing as a problem for Upper Valley businesses in search of workers.

“Every unit helps,” he said.

Adams said the location of the West Lebanon project, which will be near other multi-unit apartment buildings, the Kilton Public Library, Advance Transit, restaurants and shops, makes it particularly valuable.

Through a partnership with the Enfield-based nonprofit Visions for Creative Housing Solutions, four of the Tracy Street units are to be designated for the developmentally disabled.

“We’re very excited,” Visions Executive Director Sylvia Kluge Dow said.

Visions operates Sunrise Farm in Enfield, a former inn that currently houses 10 residents with developmental disabilities. Through a contract with Pathways of the River Valley, the organization also provides supportive services to assist these adults — who range in age from 21 to 57 — with tasks such as food preparation, house cleaning, household budgeting and medication management.

As needed, these services also will be available to the people who move into the four units at Twin Pines’ Tracy Street project, Dow said.

“We want to really integrate individuals into the community,” she said.

Visions, which has a waitlist of more than 20 people, also is seeking to establish a home in downtown Lebanon for people with developmental disabilities within the next two years, Dow said.

For its part, Twin Pines also is pursuing a couple of other projects this year, Winter said. On Sykes Mountain Avenue in White River Junction, Twin Pines is constructing 30 mixed-income rental units. On Parkhurst Street in downtown Lebanon, Twin Pines is renovating 18 units for the chronically homeless.

Winter said he expects residents will begin moving into the Tracy Street apartments in summer 2019.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.