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Affordable housing units unveiled in Lebanon

  • Lynne Goodwin, human services director for the City of Lebanon, left, talks with Jenny and Richard Bowley as they arrive at an event celebrating the near completion of Twin Pines Housing Trust's new building on Tracy Street in West Lebanon, N.H., Friday, Oct., 25, 2019. The Bowleys were homeless before moving into Anne's Place, another Twin Pines property in Enfield, N.H. Next week, they will move into a new two-bedroom apartment at Tracy Community Housing. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Twin Pines Housing Trust Executive Director Andrew Winter asks for a show of hands from fundraisers and donors attending an event to celebrate 29 new apartments in a net-zero building at 14 Tracy Street in West Lebanon, N.H., Thursday, Oct. 25, 2019. Tenants are expected to begin moving in next week. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Leora Ross, of West Lebanon, inspects a one-room apartment open for tours at the new Tracy Community Housing building in West Lebanon, N.H., Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. Ross will be moving into the new building from The Village at Crafts Hill, another Twin Pines property and is concerned about adjusting her lifestyle to a smaller space. "They probably think seniors don't have a lot of stuff, but this girl does," she said while examining the closet sizes. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/25/2019 10:07:45 PM
Modified: 10/25/2019 10:07:35 PM

WEST LEBANON — After looking for a place of his own for about a year, 21-year-old Piyanat Saengem is poised to move into a brand new apartment in the 29-unit Tracy Community Housing set to open to residents next week.

Saengem, a 2016 graduate of Hartford High School, works as a production technologist at Fujifilm Dimatix in Lebanon and has been living with his parents in White River Junction.

“All the housing here is so expensive,” Saengem said as he waited for a tour of the new 26,000-square-foot building during a grand opening celebration on Friday afternoon.

Saengem said he is excited to move into one of the one-bedroom units for which he expects to pay $907 per month, including utilities. Each unit is equipped with a kitchen, bathroom and living room space.

The red three-story building also has laundry facilities on each floor.

“It’s really nice,” he said.

In addition to the price being right, Saengem said he likes the building’s location, off South Main Street in the heart of West Lebanon and within walking distance of the White River Junction location of the Co-op Food Stores. Residents of the new building — who need to have an income of no more than 60% of Grafton County’s median income, or $47,880 for a family of three — will pay between $750 and $1,025 monthly for the one- and two-bedroom units, said Jennie Gibson, the director of property management for Twin Pines, the White River Junction-based nonprofit housing developer that owns the building.

“We’re very excited to have this new location,” Gibson said.

The Tracy Street building sits next to a Mascoma Bank branch and across the street from the Kilton Public Library and the bus stop there.

In addition, the new building has a community room, which will allow Twin Pines to host cooking classes and wellness programs such as mindfulness exercises and yoga.

It also will serve as a place for summer meal programs to drop off food, Gibson said.

Residents will have the opportunity to reserve the room — free of charge — for birthday parties or Tupperware parties, she said.

Jim Lake, a 66-year-old resident of Twin Pines’ Parkhurst Community Housing, an 18-unit building in downtown Lebanon that Twin Pines renovated and opened last year for chronically homeless and extremely low-income members of the community, also plans to move into the Tracy Street building next week.

While Parkhurst is “better than being homeless,” Lake said he’s looking forward to living in a new building.

He expects he’ll be able to swing the increase in rent by savings from reducing his driving by biking to West Lebanon stores and using a nearby bus stop.

He’ll also be near the Twin Pines’ office and case managers he works with at the Upper Valley Haven homeless shelter in White River Junction.

Lake, who spent his career working in construction, also was impressed by the building’s construction.

“This is a showcase,” he said.

The building is New Hampshire’s first net-zero, passive-house certified multifamily building, which means the residents’ energy needs will all be met using electricity generated by solar panels adorning the building’s roof and south side.

Twin Pines also will build an arbor decked with solar panels on the building’s south side that will serve as a shaded area to park bicycles or to sit.

The solar panels are sufficient to power the building because it is energy-efficient, super-insulated, and has triple-glazed windows and sealed seams, said Twin Pines Executive Director Andrew Winter.

Though Twin Pines has previously worked with White River Junction-based Norwich Solar Technologies on other projects, this is “the most ambitious,” Winter said.

The energy efficiency efforts make it “unnecessary to use any fossil fuels,” he said.

The $9.8 million project was funded through a variety of sources, including $5.6 million through federal low-income housing tax credit and solar credit programs administered by New Hampshire Housing.

The project also had a $380,000 community development block grant administered by the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority and a $700,000 Affordable Housing program grant through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston.

Mascoma Bank provided $1 million in permanent financing for the project and also provided a construction line of credit, adjusted property lines, granted a right of way and conveyed some adjoining land to Twin Pines.

The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation supported the project with a $500,000 line of credit during the predevelopment phase of the project.

In addition to soon-to-be residents of the new building, the celebration drew local politicians including Lebanon Mayor Tim McNamara and members of New Hampshire’s Congressional Delegation U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan and U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, both Democrats.

The 50 or so people gathered beneath a tent outside the building celebrated the teamwork it took to get the project accomplished, but they also noted that 29 units will not fill the region’s need for affordable workforce housing.

Mascoma Bank President Clay Adams said

he was glad his bank could participate in the project.

He added that the Upper Valley’s dearth of workforce housing and its low unemployment rate are at the top of the minds of the region’s business leaders.

“Without projects like these, the vibrancy of the Upper Valley economy … will no longer function,” Adams said.

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




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