News & Opinion

Housing Impact Fund Announces Large Affordable Housing Purchase

Will restore 265 units at Shamrock Gardens

affordable housing, Housing Impact Fund, Shamrock Gardens
The Housing Impact Fund has acquired 265 affordable-housing units to be restored in Shamrock Gardens. (Photo courtesy of HIF)

In partnership with Ascent Housing, the Housing Impact Fund (HIF) announced the purchase of Shamrock Gardens Apartments, which consists of 265 units of affordable housing off Eastway Drive in east Charlotte’s Shannon Park neighborhood, on Tuesday. 

HIF plans to invest $7 million in property improvements at Shamrock Gardens to restore the nearly 60-year-old complex and keep it one of the city’s most affordable living communities, according to a press release that called the project “a stark contrast to most developments in the Charlotte region.”

The Charlotte area has seen an average rent increase of nearly 17% since September 2020, according to CoStar. Meanwhile, the City of Charlotte estimates a current shortage of nearly 32,000 affordable housing units throughout the city, with more than 3,200 individuals experiencing homelessness.

All apartments at Shamrock Gardens will be reserved for households earning less than 80% of Charlotte’s area median income (AMI), and nearly half the units will be dedicated to those below 50% AMI. No current residents will be displaced from the acquisition.

A search for NOAH

Shamrock Gardens is HIF’s fourth property acquisition in just over a year, and Tuesday’s announcement marks a year-end milestone of more than 500 total converted affordable housing units, as HIF aims to address housing insecurity and facilitate economic opportunity in Charlotte.

The Housing Impact Fund was created in October 2020 with a $58 million investment from a coalition of individuals and corporations with a desire to preserve affordable apartment communities, particularly those under threat of being torn down or converted into more expensive housing. 

The Shamrock Gardens acquisition is part of HIF’s strategy to increase affordable housing utilizing naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAH), which involves the purchase and rehabilitation of existing apartment communities in neighborhoods with access to jobs, transit, health care, education and retail services.

According to the release, Shamrock Gardens will serve as a “community complement” to HIF’s three additional properties: Maple Way Apartments (60 units) and Pines on Wendover (44 units), both in southeast Charlotte; and Lake Mist, a 144-unit complex located off Archdale Drive in south Charlotte.

Having partnered with the HIF on all four of the above-mentioned projects, Ascent Housing – a platform of Ascent Real Estate Capital that acquires, rehabilitates and preserves NOAH developments – also partnered with Roof Above to acquire and preserve the 341-unit NOAH development Hillrock Estates in east Charlotte’s Windsor Park neighborhood in August 2020.

In April 2019, Ascent and Laurel Street Residential acquired the 98-unit Sharon Oaks apartment community in southeast Charlotte’s Oakhurst neighborhood. The partnership renovated and implemented a long-term deed restriction on the property to maintain affordability for existing and future residents. The project was one of the first of its kind in the Charlotte market, using private equity to finance the acquisition and preservation of naturally-occurring affordable housing.

An ongoing commitment

“It’s one thing to set an inanimate goal of affordable housing units converted, but it’s quite another to see tangible transformational change in action,” said Nelson Schwab III and Erskine Bowles, co-managing members of HIF, in a statement Tuesday. “The dignity that comes with living in a place you are proud to call home cannot be quantified.”

Charlotte-based Truist Financial is HIF’s largest investor, with a $15 million commitment announced last year.

“We are humbled at the lives changed, communities restored and spirits renewed in the Housing Impact Fund’s first year,” said Bill Rogers, Truist CEO. “Armed with our on-the-ground learnings from year one, we look forward to continuing to support the Fund as lead investor in its efforts to preserve affordability in Charlotte and ensure that residents can continue calling these neighborhoods home for decades to come.”

Atrium Health, LendingTree and Movement Mortgage are also HIF partners, investing a combined $38 million along with Truist and additional private and corporate investors. The Fund also benefits from a $20-million commitment from the Charlotte Housing Opportunity Investment Fund (CHOIF), a private-sector housing investment fund launched by the Foundation For The Carolinas and managed by Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a national nonprofit with an office in Charlotte.

“We know that the path toward ensuring that our city’s housing needs are met will be long and encumbered by many challenges, but we will continue to work until all of our neighbors have access to housing, health care, jobs and education,” said Movement Mortgage CEO Casey Crawford in Tuesday’s release. 

“Despite one of the most challenging real-estate markets we’ve ever seen, the Housing Impact Fund has continuously pushed to secure properties in dynamic neighborhoods with accessibility to growing businesses and cultural districts,” added Doug Lebda, founder, chairman and CEO of LendingTree. “And the Fund has continued to follow through on its commitment to boosting economic opportunity, with 90% of all contractor dollars spent on improvements and upkeep directly benefiting minority-owned businesses.”

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