3 East Valley housing projects get boost from grants - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

3 East Valley housing projects get boost from grants

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Posted: Tuesday, November 23, 2010 4:19 pm | Updated: 3:01 pm, Wed Nov 24, 2010.

Three East Valley developments for the disabled or low-income residents have received grants that will allow more than 200 housing units to be built or refurbished.

The Arizona Community Foundation announced the funding Tuesday, which will trigger $18.3 million worth of new construction and renovations to existing properties.

The grants are relatively small, at $75,000. But they serve as seed money to get projects off the ground that otherwise might not be built, said Jacky Alling, the foundation’s chief philanthropic officer.

Even when nonprofits can get millions in funding for projects, she said, they can’t get bank loans for vital feasibility studies, grant writing and conceptual plans.

“We did research and we found that nobody was funding the predevelopment part of the deal, and we realized that we could grease the wheels of these projects,” Alling said.

The grants must be paid back to the foundation, allowing it to fund other projects and use the money in perpetuity. The fund was founded in 2007 and just reached $1 million.

The latest round of grants includes three East Valley projects.

The Marc Center of Mesa got $150,000 for a $4.6 million project to construct 28 units of affordable housing for the disabled. The Village at Oasis Park near Broadway and Signal Butte roads should break ground this spring and open 10 months later, said Pat Gilbert, the Marc Center’s chief administrative officer. The grants made it easier for the center to begin the project, he said.

“We could conceivably pull it off but it would potentially hinder other things that we have in the works,” Gilbert said.

A future phase will include housing for low-income seniors who can no longer live independently while taking care of their disabled children. Both generations will live on the same campus, rather than the disabled adult being sent to a group home. Gilbert estimates 5,000 Arizonans may have a need for that kind of housing arrangement.

Also, a grant went to the East Valley Adult Services Inc., which will purchase a 183-unit project of affordable housing for seniors in Mesa.

The Discovery Point Senior Housing near Main Street and Recker Road was Arizona’s first low-income project for seniors, said Megan Brownell, the foundation’s vice president of communications.

The project may not have stayed exclusive to low-income seniors if a private developer purchased it, Brownell said, adding the low-income guarantee will be extended for 30 years.

Another $75,000 grant was awarded to the Newtown Community Development Corporation, which will spend $4.9 million to buy foreclosed homes. The properties will be refurbished and sold to low-income buyers in Tempe and Chandler. Newtown estimates its funding will purchase 18 to 24 homes.

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