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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Agency plans to build low-income housing for seniors in Nashua

NASHUA – Southern New Hampshire Services is looking to expand its stock of low-income housing for seniors with the construction of a new three-story building near Salmon Brook at the corner of Lovell and Ash streets.

The local community action agency is seeking low-income tax credits to help finance a residential development with 31 one-bedroom units. The new building would be open to people 62 and older whose earnings fall below a certain percentage of the average median income in the area. ...

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NASHUA – Southern New Hampshire Services is looking to expand its stock of low-income housing for seniors with the construction of a new three-story building near Salmon Brook at the corner of Lovell and Ash streets.

The local community action agency is seeking low-income tax credits to help finance a residential development with 31 one-bedroom units. The new building would be open to people 62 and older whose earnings fall below a certain percentage of the average median income in the area.

With seniors in the region experiencing long waits to find housing, SNHS housing and facilities development director Bill Hart said the project would come at a crucial time.

“The need in Nashua for senior housing, and for low-income senior housing, is substantial,” he said. “We currently own and operate four properties and have a pretty significant waiting list in the city right now.”

In the past, Southern New Hampshire Services has tapped funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 202 Program to finance new housing projects. The program provides capital advances to pay for construction, rehabilitation or acquisition of structures that will serve as supportive housing for very low-income seniors.

Residents pay 30 percent of their income for rent, heat and utilities and the balance is subsidized by HUD.

Section 202 money helped Southern New Hampshire Services create four supportive housing projects in Nashua: Wagner Court on 101 Burke St.; Davidson Landing I and Davidson Landing II on Ledge Street; and Streeter Shores at 76 Temple St. Combined, the projects offer 195 units for low-income seniors.

However, Hart said funding for Section 202 projects has dried up, leaving Southern New Hampshire Services with fewer options to finance new projects. SNHS has recently looked toward low-income tax credits as an alternative solution, using the mechanism to help finish J. B. Milette Manor on Vine Street, another project tailored toward older residents.

“The reason that we’re going to the low-income tax credit program is that basically that’s the only funding mechanism left,” Hart said.

Nashua’s Zoning Board of Appeals will hear a request Tuesday from SNHS to move forward with the new project on land owned by Cedric and Zoe Stylianos Onsruth, of Merrimack. SNHS and the property owners are seeking a special exception to work in the 75-foot prime wetland buffer of Salmon Brook to construct a stormwater drain outlet pipe.

The land is currently occupied by a single home, which was owned by Mary Stylianos, mother of Zoe Stylianos and a longtime member of the Southern New Hampshire Services Board of Directors. SNHS seeks to subdivide the property and build the new development on about 2.8 acres.

“They basically approached us thinking that it might be a good use,” Hart said of Zoe Stylianos and her husband, “and we’ve been obviously toying with the idea and trying to make it work.”

Civil engineering firm Hayner/Swanson Inc. is performing the site design work. New London architect David M. White has been hired to design the building.

With the site close to Salmon Brook, Hart said drainage poses one of the most significant design challenges.

Hart said the agency anticipates leaving trees and other natural buffers with abutting properties intact.

Estimates for the project are still being developed, though it’s expected to cost in the range of $3 million to $4 million, Hart said. In addition to low-income tax credits, SNHS is exploring other federal funding sources, such as HOME funds allocated to the city each year as a block grant from HUD.

“It’s pretty tough to do it just with the tax credit money, so typically you try to bring in other funding sources,” he said. “We haven’t identified all of those yet.”

Jim Haddadin can be reached at 594-6589 or jhaddadin@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Haddadin on Twitter (@Telegraph_JimH).