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2004-07-06 Media Release  



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Section 3



Date: July 06, 2004

Contact:  Brandon Laster, 816-759-6692


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. (POAH).

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, Missouri population.

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 low-income families.

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.


NOTE TO EDITORS: Media representative questions can be directed to Brandon Laster, Public Information Officer, at 816.759.6692 or e-mail blaster@mhdc.com. If you would like to receive this release by e-mail in rich-text format, please email blaster@mhdc.com and provide us with the appropriate e-mail address




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