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POAH begins renovation at Hawthorne Place Apartments in Independence, MO

March 16, 2021

Hawthorne exterior

Independence, MO – Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), a non-profit owner and developer of affordable housing, has closed on the financing and begun renovations at Hawthorne Place Apartments in Independence, Missouri, a 745-unit development that is home to 1,745 residents.

Following the announcement about the financing last month, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (MO) said, “This announcement is great news for the residents of Hawthorne Place and the City of Independence, Thanks to the Financial Opportunity Center (FOC) at Hawthorne Place, which is part of the Family Self-Sufficiency program, residents have more than just a home; they have onsite access to resources to create a stronger, more stable financial future. I was proud to lead the Family Self-Sufficiency Act in the Senate, in partnership with U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver in the House. I thank all of the partners in this effort for the work they do every day to improve the quality of life for Missouri families."

The $30 million of renovations will include: upgrades to most kitchens and select baths, replacement of some heating, cooling and hot water equipment, new siding, sliders and windows for the northern portion of the site, new entry and closet doors for all units, interior common area upgrades, creation of thirteen fully accessible apartments, community building expansion and improvements, and site and landscape improvements, including playground and walkway upgrades and replacement.

POAH secured public and private support for the project, including: 

  • Independence Development Authority (IDA): $40.4 million in tax-exempt bonds
  • Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC): $3.5 million annually in Low Income Housing Tax Credits
  • Boston Private and UMB:  construction and permanent financing
  • Boston Financial: tax credit equity of approximately $33 million
  • Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston:  $500,000 grant and $1.3 million in low interest debt.

“As Chair of Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing, I’m always grateful to organizations like POAH who work tirelessly with local and federal partners to provide affordable housing to the most vulnerable members of our community,” said Congressman Emanuel Cleaver. “Because of their invaluable work, along with public and private support, more than 1,700 residents of Independence will benefit from upgraded housing. That’s a life-changing development, and it’s been my pleasure working with POAH to bring it to fruition.”

“The City of Independence is proud to work with POAH as part of our community and looks forward to the positive impact these updates will provide,” said Mayor Eileen Weir. “The local, state and federal collaborations that make these renovations also make a variety of supportive services to ensure Hawthorne residents and families have the tools they need to be successful such as a college savings program, financial education and more.”

“It is an honor to work with POAH and to be part of the financing team, along with UMB Bank and other key partners, for this important reinvestment in Hawthorne Place Apartments, which will enhance the lives of its residents and the community,” said Boston Private CEO Anthony DeChellis.

“We are grateful to all of partners for helping to improve the quality of life for residents of Hawthorne Place Apartments,” said Aaron Gornstein, POAH President and CEO.  “The combination of government and private sector support along with a strong partnership with the City of Independence will lift up our residents for years to come.”

Hawthorne Place is the site of the Financial Opportunity Center (FOC) that administers the Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) program, a federal program supported by Senator Blunt and Congressman Cleaver that helps low-income residents living in subsidized housing to increase their incomes, reduce their use of public assistance and build savings, enabling them to achieve economic mobility. Housed within the David Stanley Community Center, the FOC is staffed by the Community Services League and provides financial coaches who work with residents to define financial goals and make connections to the community resources they need to help them succeed, such as training, childcare, and transportation. The FSS Program has helped Hawthorne families save more than $400,000.

The program has produced several success stories, including Christina Jacks, a former Hawthorne single parent who gained employment at a Raytown-based company and saved enough money in two years for a down payment on a home. Read her story

In 2017, POAH launched the Amy S. Anthony College Savings Accounts program at Hawthorne Place Apartments, in honor of its late founder and CEO to promote opportunity for children and their parents. The program creates college savings accounts for every Hawthorne child between 5 and 19 years of age whose family is participating in the FSS program.

Hawthorne Place Apartments is also one of 4 pilot sites for POAH’s Trauma-Resilient Communities project, a collaborative, human-centered design process to cultivate trauma-informed care within affordable rental housing. The project is funded by the Wells Fargo and Enterprise Community Partners Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge.  POAH is collaborating with The Center for Trauma Informed Innovation at Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City and its current partner, the Community Services League, to work with residents and staff to explore trauma-informed innovations in resident services.

The project will look at property management practices and physical design to create a more equitable model for affordable housing that reduces evictions, improves resident and staff retention; promotes healthy, physical design; and contributes to individual and community resiliency.  As affordable housing providers have been working to address the growing housing crisis, organizations like POAH have been challenged by decades-old compliance regulations and restrictions that deter them from helping residents address underlying trauma issues that can result in resident evictions, health problems and financial and family instability.

Hawthorne Place relies on many community partners to support its residents, including the Community Service League and other groups that work with management to enhance safety at the property such as the Safety Council, COMBAT, and the Independence Police Department that maintains an office at the property and assists with the Crime Free Housing program and a range of security measures.