When the Pagedale Town Center Homes project wraps up in late 2023, it will be the 20th low-income housing tax credit project Beyond Housing has completed since 1988. It also marks the first partnership with BJC HealthCare, which is providing below-market, permanent financing for the development of thirty-six new affordable homes.
“BJC is a new investment partner, and we are thrilled to have them making such a lasting impact in affordable housing development,” said Deb Dombar, Chief Operating Officer at Beyond Housing. “More housing equals more opportunity for families to live and thrive in a stable community.”
For BJC HealthCare, the project is central to their mission. “Housing is health,” says Jason Purnell, BJC vice president of community health improvement. “Having a home and economic stability are critical factors to overall health and well-being.”
The project illustrates Beyond Housing’s commitment to both strengthening families and transforming the physical environment. Residents in the thirty-six homes will receive holistic services—from employment to education to health—at no cost through Beyond Housing’s comprehensive housing resource coordination model. The newly constructed rental homes provide another significant upgrade to the physical appearance of the community. The homes employ sustainable construction methods and materials that will make them both efficient and durable. “We provide a permanent home, not just a place to stay until families can find something better,” Dombar explained.
Pagedale Town Center Homes is intentionally designed to offer many options for families with two, three, and four bedrooms, said Chris Krehmeyer, President and CEO of Beyond Housing. The homes will be located in formerly vacant parcels of land within a four-block radius of Pagedale Town Center, the growing commercial corridor where Beyond Housing and many partner organizations and businesses have invested in amenities ranging from restaurants to entertainment venues to healthcare providers to retail shopping outlets. Plans are in the works to add an artistic center at the site of the Bible Way Church, which Beyond Housing purchased in 2021.
“We want to be intentional about placemaking,” Krehmeyer said. “Place is about more than just buildings.”
Beyond Housing and its partners have a proven track record and significant experience in developing and operating low- and moderate-income housing. In the past 10 years alone, they have added 200 new units within the footprint of the Normandy school district, bringing Beyond Housing’s portfolio to 509 residences.
Longtime partners on Pagedale Town Center Homes include the St. Louis Equity Fund, which has worked with Beyond Housing on low-income housing tax credit projects since the beginning, and TPI Group, the consultant that assists with the application and construction process. Along with BJC, other newcomers to the development team are David Mason & Associates and Roanoke Construction.
In the St. Louis region, competition for low-income housing tax credits is fierce. The Missouri Housing Development Commission, the state’s housing finance agency, administers the low-income housing tax credit program. “Their insight, expertise, and guidance through this complex development tool is invaluable and appreciated,” Dombar said.
Although Beyond Housing is targeting an end completion and occupancy date of late 2023 for the 36 homes, Dombar is realistic that this project will most likely take a bit longer due to supply chain and labor shortages, as well as the cost of lumber and other goods.
“Affordable housing is difficult to produce and takes time and resources, we must absolutely do all we can to provide a quality, healthy environment for our residents and to protect our natural resources,” Dombar said. Having partners like BJC who understand this reality and are willing to proceed despite the obstacles and unknowns is game-changing.
“While Beyond Housing having 509 units is a good milestone and has helped countless families, it’s a drop in the bucket where the need is concerned,” Dombar said. “The lack of affordable housing in our community is a real issue, and our ability to add more quality, affordable homes—and following their construction, to take a holistic approach to service delivery for residents—is as important as ever.”
Rental housing in Pagedale Town Center Homes will be offered first-come, first-served for qualifying households. “Once the initial compliance 15-year period is satisfied,” Dombar explained, “we can offer the homes for homeownership to low- and moderate-income families. This gives families who have made this community home the opportunity to further invest in the 24:1 and make it their home. The more affordable rental housing we can create, the more homeownership opportunities we can ultimately create and further stabilize neighborhoods and communities once and for all.”
Beyond Housing’s holistic services include financial education and support that help ensure families have the footing to qualify for homeownership when they decide to take that step. “Outcomes among our current residents are consistent year to year,” Dombar said. “More than half of our families are setting and achieving their annual goals, 6 out of every 10 families are increasing their level of self-sufficiency, and 85% of families maintain their housing. In 2021 alone, we saw more than $775,000 in assets created.”
Keeping those families and their financial assets in the 24:1 Community is important for Beyond Housing’s effort to transform these communities to create a stronger, more equitable, and prosperous St. Louis for all. Moreover, it aligns with residents’ own goals.
“In a 2021 community survey, 77% of residents were satisfied with their community and 68% wanted to stay in their community,” Dombar said. “But residents see firsthand that quality, affordable housing is in short supply, and the demand for well-built, well-maintained homes here is significant. We are addressing that with projects like Pagedale Town Center Homes.”