By Jeffrey Steele, Contibuting Writer
St. Louis—Two low-income senior housing developments in the St. Louis suburb of Shrewsbury, Mo., will gain a much-needed capital infusion of $6.6 million from the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT). The union pension capital will help preserve affordability and provide rehabilitation dollars for the Holy Infant and St. Joseph Apartments, both in Shrewsbury. Approximately 75 union construction jobs will be generated through the $13 million rehabilitation project.
The more than 20-year-old properties require energy-efficiency improvements, as well as enhancements to make them more liveable and marketable. The project will refinance debt on the two properties, allowing the 157 housing units to remain affordable for low-income seniors for another 20 years.
Apartment residents, who are at least 62 years old and have incomes at or below 50 percent of area median income, will be temporarily relocated during the HIT-financed construction work. That work will convert most of the efficiency units into one-bedroom apartments. Kitchens and bathrooms will also be renovated to provide greater accessibility, and community spaces will be expanded.
The service-enriched facilities, which also serve people with disabilities who are younger than 62, provide on-site social services that allow most residents to live independently. All units are subsidized through Section 8 project-based rental assistance.
The capital infusion is a component of the HIT’s Construction Jobs Initiative, which seeks to provide investment in housing projects as a means of returning construction workers to the job, according to HIT chief operating officer Ted Chandler. In the past four years, the HIT’s St. Louis Metro area investments have created almost 2,700 jobs for members of the building and construction trade unions, and leveraged $400 million of total development.
“Union members need good jobs in this economy, but they also appreciate having a chance to give back to their community,” says St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council executive secretary-treasurer Jeff Aboussie.
“We are proud that the HIT is using union pension dollars to put union members to work on projects that will improve the quality of life for some of our community’s neediest older residents.”
The HIT purchased $6.6 million of tax-exempt bonds issued by the Industrial Development Authority for St. Louis County and insured by Ginnie Mae securities. Work on the two properties will be performed under collective bargaining agreements with local building and construction trade unions.
In the past 17 years, the HIT has forged an enviable track assisting the St. Louis metro area meet its residents’ housing requirements. It has provided more than $460 million in financing for Gateway City projects generating more than $800 million in development activity, almost 4,000 housing units and more than 5,700 union construction jobs.