Thursday, October 25, 2012
Vernal Honored for Affordable Housing
The Vernal Gardens apartment complex, a 48-unit apartment complex that opened last October, was named project of the year by the Utah Housing Coalition. The award was announced at the coalition’s annual banquet in Salt Lake City. At the same banquet, Kim Datwyler, from Neighborhood Nonprofit Housing Corporation, was named as one of the UHC members of the year. Neighborhood Nonprofit Housing Corporation developed the property.
The apartments are meant to provide affordable housing options for Vernal renters, who are often at the mercy of the region’s booms and busts.
During economic booms, rental rates in Vernal can double or even triple, according to UHC, making housing unaffordable for many in the Basin’s workforce.
Datwyler has spoken with teachers and service workers who found themselves priced out of rentals in a matter of months.
To counter that, the units at Vernal Gardens rent out based on a person’s income. The Vernal Gardens apartments have rents ranging from 21 to 63 percent below typical market rents. Renters also must pass a criminal background check, Datwyler said.
The buildings are also built to be energy efficient, in an effort to give residents low utility bills.
Beyond that, Datwyler said, the entire project is Enterprise Green Certified, the first such project in the state of Utah. Environmentally-friendly, long-lasting materials were used in construction, and paints low in volatile organic compounds, which have been blamed for some illnesses, were used.
Landscaping at the project is xeriscaped, save for a patch of green grass in the center. Plants are typical of what would be found in high desert, reducing the need for water use, Datwyler said.
Vernal City Councilor Jo Ann Cowan said the UHC found it “quite unusual” for cities to be as engaged in the creation of affordable housing as Vernal was with the Vernal Gardens.
Vernal City donated the land, which is situated between residential and shopping developments near Highway 40, for the project. The city also waived permit fees and other fees for the project, according to UHC.
“They are probably one of the most proactive and supportive cities we’ve worked with,” Datwyler said of Vernal. “Their efforts and concerns for the city residents, I would have to say as a developer, are very impressive.”
Datwyler also lauded other organizations, like Utah State University, for teaching financial education to residents.
Neighborhood Nonprofit Housing Corporation applied for, and received, tax credits from UHC worth more than $4 million in equity. They also received a loan from the Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund.
“This project’s been bold since day one,” Cowan said. She credited Vernal City Manager Ken Bassett for the success of the project.
Neighborhood Nonprofit Housing Corporation applied for, and received, tax credits from UHC worth more than $4 million in equity. They also received a loan from the Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund. Vernal Express