Like many cities across the US, Grand Rapids continues to see a need for affordable and low-income housing. The topic has long been in discussion in the community thanks to a limited housing supply, high demand market and increasing rental rates.
Triangle Associates, a long-time advocate committed to addressing these issues, has constructed nearly 1,200 units of affordable and low-income housing in the last 15 years including over 400 for the Grand Rapids Housing Commission (GRHC).
Triangle is currently overseeing the construction of Antoine Court, a $13.5 million development for the GRHC. The new 56,000 sq ft housing facility will be located on Division Avenue between Antoine Street SW and Delaware Street SW. The three-story structure will feature fifty 690 sq ft one-bedroom apartments.
In order for Antoine court to come to fruition, GRHC needed to secure funding, an issue many nonprofits face.
Triangle’s Project Development Manager Brianne Pitchford is helping oversee the development and construction of Antoine Court. She believes construction managers play a vital role that extends beyond the construction phase in the process of building affordable and low-income housing.
“It’s our job to be subject-matter experts and offer pre-construction support,” Pitchford said. “We understand the needs of non-profit agencies including the details and reporting required on projects receiving funding, financing and various tax credits from multiple sources.”
For Antoine Court, GRHC set a project metric to achieve a 30% Section 3 workforce participation goal to secure Housing and Development funding. The goal of Section 3 is to ensure economic opportunities generated by government-provided financial assistance programs are directly training and employing low-income populations and public housing residents.
“It’s one thing to give these residents a home but another to give them an opportunity for employment and training,” Pitchford said. “As a construction management firm, it’s our job to provide opportunity for equal employment for everyone and the Section 3 program helps us achieve that.”
The Triangle team in conjunction with the GRHC developed a project-specific Section 3 plan that outlines the project goals for both awarding contracts to Section 3 certified businesses as well as a hiring and recruitment path for GRHC residents, Section 8 Residents and the neighboring community. For Antoine Court, construction began in June and Triangle is already on pace to exceed one of the project goals with 35% of the work to be completed by Section 3 certified businesses.
Another source of project funding comes from the state’s low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC); however, LIHTC comes with its own set of requirements including green building standards and a percentage of Michigan-made products.
Antoine Court will be tailored to meet the needs of homeless veterans, adults with disabilities, and seniors ages 62 and older. The GRHC currently administers 22 HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Vouchers and plans to provide an additional 28 Section 8 Project-Based Vouchers so that all units at Antoine Court will be rent subsidized.
“The Grand Rapids Housing Commission is pleased to work with HUD, the Veterans Administration, Disability Advocates of Kent County, The Salvation Army, Network 180 and other partner organizations to provide not only housing assistance but also supportive services that will help veterans and other vulnerable households maintain housing stability,” said GRHC Executive Director, Carlos A. Sanchez.
In addition to project development and providing boots on the ground, construction management firms like Triangle support the mission of affordable and low-income housing communities well beyond project completion. Triangle employees spend time volunteering for numerous non-profits including Habitat for Humanity, Well House and Dwelling Place, assisting with fundraising, and providing public relations services.
“We don’t just provide the brick and mortar building. We are here to support community development,” Pitchford said. “We believe in being active supporters of our clients’ mission by providing low-income and affordable housing that enhances every individual’s quality of life.”
Antoine Court is slated to open October 2021 and will pursue LEED Gold certification.