Hawthorne Place opening brings promise,
new community center to residents
A new beginning, a celebration of a new life, a victory over
drugs, violence and vandalism. These words all characterize
those spoken at the grand opening of Hawthorne Place Community
Center (HPCC) July 1 by Preservation of Affordable Housing, Inc.
Hawthorne Place Townhomes and Apartments is a 745-unit
affordable housing complex in Independence, MO, located east and
south of U.S. 24 and Missouri 291. It is Missouri’s largest
provider of low-income Section 8 housing. Hawthorne Place
residents represent nearly 2 percent of the Independence,
The ceremony not only marked the community center opening but it
also signaled the culmination of an extensive multimillion
dollar renovation of all the apartment units in the complex.
U.S. Senator Christopher “Kit” Bond was the keynote speaker at
the grand opening ceremonies. Senator Bond helped to secure
$15.5 million in U.S. Housing and Urban Development funding to
preserve Hawthorne. During his speech before more than 250
dignitaries and residents, Senator Bond commented, “Today’s
Hawthorne makes the Hawthorne of 1994 look like a bad dream.”
As a result of a unique partnership with Missouri Housing
Development Commission (MHDC), HUD, Fannie Mae, and MMA
Financial, POAH received the $42.7 million necessary to acquire
Hawthorne Place and make the needed renovations.
Preservation of Affordable Housing, Inc., HUD, MHDC and Fannie
Mae provided financing for renovation of the complex to preserve
the units’ affordability. Financing for the project includes $20
million in tax-exempt bonds issued by MHDC , $9.8 million in
equity raised from Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits and
$1.5 million equity from State Housing Tax Credits allocated
through MHDC, and a $15.5 million restructuring payment by HUD.
Under the new financing plan units will remain reserved for
Hawthorne Place provides affordable housing to families earning
at or below 50 percent of the area median income – housing units
that are not easily replaced in any community. Hawthorne Place
faced deterioration and a loss of affordability due to the
expiration of federal subsidies under HUD’s project-based
Section 8 multifamily financing program.
MHDC helped provide the funding necessary to preserve not only
the property, but to preserve the lives of the children living
there. Executive Director Erica Dobreff voiced the opinions and
concerns of many people by saying, “Everyone around here just
gets it. It’s all about the kids,” Dobreff said. Dobreff went on
to talk about the increased opportunities that children at
Hawthorne will now have.
The Hawthorne Place renovation included new roofs, windows,
kitchen cabinets, outside safety lights and various grounds
work, among other repairs and updates.
The new 21,000 square-foot community center will directly
benefit the 745 families living in Hawthorne Place, which
includes over 1,000 children, but the entire city of
Independence will also reap positive gains.
HPCC will serve as the permanent site for several
well-established community-based social service programs,
including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City and
Head Start childcare services, operated by the Kansas City
Metropolitan Council on Childcare. HPCC also includes an
exercise facility and a Community Technology Center.
More than 30 percent of Hawthorne Place families (approximately
241 families) earn less than $5,000 a year.