This past spring, HELP USA, one of our nation’s largest homeless services and low-income housing developers serving at-risk populations, broke ground on the site of the soon to be HELP Walter Reed Apartments, a services-enriched affordable apartment building located on the grounds of the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
LISC, through our affiliate, the National Equity Fund (NEF), syndicated the equity ($5.06 million) and provided grant support to HELP USA for the 170,000 square foot apartment building that will be redeveloped to provide permanent supportive housing (PSH) for homeless and at-risk of homeless veterans.
We began providing technical assistance for this site five years ago and also provided $100,000 in predevelopment grants through the NEF-LISC Bring Them Homes initiative, with funding from the generous support of Citi Community Development and Northrop Grumman, to support this project’s targeting of homeless and low-income veterans, with each partner investing $50,000.
The apartments will be 100% affordable – two units will be leased at 50% of area median income (AMI), while the remaining 75 units will be permanent supportive housing targeted to homeless veterans and reserved for individuals earning 30% or less of AMI. As PSH tenants, the veterans will pay 30% of their income for rent, supplemented by a locally funded rental subsidy program in D.C. called the LRSP rental subsidy program (“Local Rental Supplement Program”).
Since its founding in 1986, HELP USA has maintained a great track record in providing stellar service to at-risk populations, including homeless families, veterans, and domestic violence survivors. HELP USA is up for the challenges faced by this particularly vulnerable population – chronically homeless veterans with numerous barriers to overcome, including substance abuse, mental health issues, and physical disabilities. Thus, HELP USA will provide case management and transportation to medical appointments, as well as host Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous meetings. By putting these measures into place, HELP USA will help to mitigate the challenge of keeping vulnerable tenants stabilized.
Located in close proximity to the Takoma and Silver Spring metro stations, the HELP Walter Reed Apartments will be situated in a prime location within easy access to resources in the surrounding community; however, the 77 tenants at the HELP Walter Reed Apartments will not have to venture too far from home since they will have access to on-site tenant services, as well as an abundance of amenities in their neighborhood once the campus is completely redeveloped.
The redevelopment of the Walter Reed Medical Center will bring approximately 250,000 square feet of retail, hospitality (a conference center and hotel), arts and culture (community parks and plazas), recreation, and additional affordable housing to the campus, which is already home to a state-of-the-art international public charter school, which LISC also helped to finance.
It is expected to create thousands of construction and permanent jobs, and bring in millions of dollars in annual tax revenue to the District of Columbia. Complete redevelopment of the 66.5 acre site will take 10 – 15 years, in various phases, with the HELP Walter Reed Apartments being completed in the first phase, the spring of 2019.
LISC Other Investments on the Walter Reed Campus
DC International School: LISC provided a $5.1 million construction loan to DC International, a high quality language immersion middle and high school. DCI renovated and moved onto the Walter Reed campus in time for the 2017 school year.
Housing Up: LISC provided capacity building grants to support Housing Up in their efforts to preserve and produce affordable housing in the District of Columbia. Housing Up will co-develop 80 units of affordable senior housing at Walter Reed, as well as 9,000 square feet of program and office space in the same building.