Ridgeline Terrace & Susitna Square
RIDGELINE TERRACE AND SUSITNA SQUARE SET TO CHANGE LIVES AND NEIGHBORHOODS
A housing crunch in the state makes grand openings of new affordable housing good reason for celebration. AHFC had two great opportunities in FY16 to celebrate opening doors with the addition of Susitna Square and Ridgeline Terrace in Anchorage.
The developments add 88 units to the affordable housing stock; 18 at Susitna Square were opened on September 9, 2015. The 70 unit Ridgeline Terrace followed on January 8, 2016 with an opening attended by more than 100 guests, including U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan, State Senator Stoltze, Community Council President Daniel George, additional state and local dignitaries, and media. Ridgeline Terrace is the biggest AHFC development since Riverbend opened in the Mendenhall Valley in Juneau 1998.
Watch how Ridgeline Terrace changed the life of the Eduardo and Emelyn Quinto’s family.
“It was the best moment of our lives when we received the phone call telling us that our Alaska Housing application had been accepted.”
(Janine Quinto – Ridgeline Terrace tenant)
Eduardo Quinto worked for 20 years to save enough money to afford to move his wife and two children from the Philippines to Alaska to live with him. He left his job as a chef in Dutch Harbor and spent his savings and retirement on a small apartment for his family in Anchorage, near enough to a hospital to support his 11-year-old son’s special needs. But maintaining a comfortable life for his family proved to be difficult.
When he heard about the AHFC’s public housing program, Eduardo Quinto knew it would be a great opportunity for him and his family to finally get their life on track.
Six months after applying, and with help from AHFC’s partner, Cook Inlet Housing Authority, the Quintos were approved for a three-bedroom unit.
“It was the best moment of our lives when we received the phone call telling us that we were accepted to Ridgeline Terrace. We cried a lot, we knew this was really going to help our family start over.”
The AHFC public housing program offers housing assistance to low-income Alaskans. Housing is available in 13 communities across Alaska, typically with on-site management and maintenance staff. Additional on-site support services and skills training programs may also be available to residents.
Today, Eduardo and his 21-year-old daughter both hold stable jobs and are able to comfortably support the family and the special needs of his son.
“Our family has been through ups and downs and this is truly a blessing for us.”
RIDGELINE TERRACE AT A GLANCE
Fourteen buildings house 70 units that combine affordable apartments with market-rate units in the Mountain View neighborhood in East Anchorage. It has a 5 Star Plus energy rating, and features solar thermal and photovoltaic alternative energy systems that help reduce tenant-paid utility expenses and operating costs. Ridgeline Terrace features an on-site community center that includes Kids’ Corp. Inc. Head Start day care and education program. It was funded by a $450,000 grant from the Rasmuson Foundation. The community center is dedicated to Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame Alumnae Jewel Jones, formerly CEO of Anchorage Community Land Trust, and an AHFC Board Chair.
Ridgeline Terrace offers two types of apartments:
- Family units with two bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms and single-car garages.
- Senior single-story units in two versions, one-bedroom or two bedroom units, all equipped with sensory and mobility impairment.
- Ridgeline Terrace and Susitna Square were developed by Cook Inlet Housing Authority, in conjunction with Trapline, LLC and V2, LLC, two private for-profit developers based in Anchorage. The total development cost for both projects is $32.5 million and realized through a mixed financing strategy featuring a combination of AHFC dividends, state appropriations, federal funds, tax-exempt bonds and tax credit private investment.
Take a tour of Ridgeline Terrace.
SUSITNA SQUARE IN A NUT SHELL
Eighteen apartments are at home in three buildings in the Russian Jack neighborhood in Anchorage that offers affordable housing. All units have a garage, dishwasher, window coverings and washer and dryer hook ups.
Susitna Square features solar powered hot water and electricity systems that are collectively estimated to support 10 percent or more of the property’s total energy and the development has a 5 Star Plus energy rating.
Here is the composition of available apartments:
- One-bedroom, 1 bath.
- Two-bedroom, 1.5 bath.
- One fully accessible, one-bedroom unit available for a household in need of those features.
All units are restricted to households earning 60 percent or less of the area median income. In Anchorage that means that a two person household can’t earn more than $50,200 in order to be eligible for a two-bedroom unit. Project based rental assistance is available to qualified households.
Case management is available to any formerly homeless tenants through Catholic Social Services.
The rental process for Susitna Square and Ridgeline Terrace is managed by Cook Inlet Housing Authority.
Take a drone tour of Susitna Square.
Moving to Work
PUBLIC HOUSING MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
AHFC continues to implement its Rent Reform plan as part of its work as one of 39 Moving to Work (MTW) agencies in the country. Jumpstart was introduced November 1. The program is open to participants in AHFC’s housing rental assistance programs and offers a path to economic independence. Participants are supported by case managers and given access to a range of financial incentives and educational opportunities.
Rent Reform was launched by the Public Housing division in FY14 with the introduction of the Classic Program aimed at seniors or persons experiencing a disability. It was followed by the Step Program designed to provide families with a work-able adult in the household opportunities to increase their economic independence.
Step families are required to attend a financial literacy course and are encouraged to participate in Jumpstart. At fiscal year-end, there were 427 households enrolled in the program.
Here are some encouraging Rent Reform findings:
- In two years, the percentage of working families in the Step Program increased by 13 percent, and the number working full-time increased by 7 percent.
- Gross incomes for Step households increased from an average of $20,000 to $27,000.
- For those on their third year of the Step program, income increased from $21,000 to $31,000.
- More than 300 families were moved off the housing waiting lists in FY16 as a direct result of increasing housing opportunities through the Step program.
JENNIFER IS JUMPSTARTING HER LIFE
Meet Jennifer Warwick and her son Maverick.
Jennifer has worked with AHFC for a year and has been a participant in the Jumpstart program for five months. She’s taking classes to become a substance abuse counselor and her ultimate goal is to become self-sufficient and create a better life for herself and her son. Here is her story.
PUBLIC HOUSING IN HIGH DEMAND
AHFC’s Public Housing Division is regarded as one of the most efficient in the country by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Across the state 1,612 units are available with more than 3,000 people waiting for a housing opportunity. Opening and closing community-based waitlists during the fiscal year made it possible for AHFC to work more efficiently. The average statewide lease up for FY16 was 98 percent.
AHFC Public Housing as of June 30, 2016
Available units statewide: 1,612
Anchorage, Bethel, Cordova, Fairbanks, Juneau, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Mat-Su, Nome, Seward, Sitka, Valdez and Wrangell
PRESSURE CONTINUES ON VOUCHER PROGRAM
The pressure on AHFC’s Housing Choice Voucher Program, that helps eligible low-income Alaskans lease privately owned rental units from participating landlords, continued in FY16. The number of available vouchers, 4,967, was far from answering demand, leaving 3,969 individuals on the waiting list. As a measurement, the program is utilized on average 100 percent of the time and is offered by AHFC in 12 communities throughout Alaska.
Housing Choice Vouchers as of June 30, 2016
Available units statewide: 4,967
Anchorage, Fairbanks, Homer, Juneau, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Mat-Su, Petersburg, Sitka, Soldotna, Valdez and Wrangell.
RENTAL ASSISTANCE FOR FORMER INMATES EXPANDS TO ANCHORAGE
AHFC has been running its Tenant Based Rental Assistance Housing Program for individuals coming out of prison in 12 communities since 2009.
Anchorage hasn’t been one of them but that changed in October 2015 when the State of Alaska Department of Corrections (DOC) and AHFC signed an agreement bringing 20 housing vouchers to the greatest populated community in the state.
The housing assistance model follows AHFC’s Housing Choice Voucher protocol where landlords receive payment directly from AHFC for housing individuals or families with a voucher. Under the TBRA program, tenants are eligible to receive up to two years of rental assistance. Before the start of the program, 66 percent of prisoners released by Department of Corrections went back to prison. With the program in place the recidivism has been reduced to 33 percent. The average rental assistance provided to a household is $7,000 annually, compared to the cost of incarceration which is $50,000. Additionally, the program is an important bridge connecting individuals to loved ones and they are supported by a probation officer as they work toward stability within the community. There are restrictions to families supported by the Tenant Based Rental Assistance Program. Individuals who are subject to a lifetime registration requirement on the state sex offender registry, with a history of manufacturing methamphetamines in federally assisted housing, or who owe AHFC money are excluded from participating.
BOOST FOR HOMELESS VETERANS
Alaska is the preferred state for many veterans with more than 73,000 living in the state. While the vast majority of them are living a good life there’s a portion that experience homelessness or are in danger of becoming homeless. The latest Point-in-Time count of the homeless population in Alaska showed 168 unsheltered veterans and the issue was one of the eight prioritized topics during the Governor Walker’s Housing Summit beginning of January
AHFC expanded its services to Alaska’s homeless veterans and their families in FY16 when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) granted the agency 24 new Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers. At fiscal year-end, the total number of Alaska vouchers was up to 271.
VASH is a housing rental assistance program where applicants are referred to AHFC by the Alaska VA Healthcare System. The program is available in every AHFC community that offers the Housing Choice Voucher Program.
CONNECTING WITH HOMELESS ALASKANS
The annual one-day Project Homeless Connect provided assistance to 1,800 Alaskans experiencing homelessness or those at-risk of becoming homeless in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Kenai, Ketchikan, Sitka and Mat-Su Valley on January 27.
The event brings housing and other service providers together at a single venue at each location providing services range from assisting individuals to complete housing applications, receive identification cards, healthcare services, and even haircuts.
In conjunction with Project Homeless Connect, AHFC worked with the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness and the Alaska Coalition on Housing and Homelessness to facilitate the annual Point-in-Time count to gather information on persons sleeping in emergency shelter, transitional housing, or unsheltered situations on one night in January.
Data gathered through the Point-in-Time and Project Homeless Connect is reported to HUD and used to measure the extent of homelessness throughout the nation, and inform future funding decisions for housing and homeless programs. The 2016 Point-In-Time count identified 1,940 Alaskans who were experiencing homelessness, sleeping in emergency shelters, transitional housing, or altogether unsheltered.
SAFE HOUSING FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SURVIVORS
Alaska continues to be ranked among the highest states for instances of domestic violence and sexual assault. Victims have a way out of partner violence because of the Empowering Choice Housing Program was developed by AHFC in partnership the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and the State of Alaska Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.
The Empowering Choice Housing Program assists survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and sexual assault with finding secure housing. It offers rental assistance for up to 214 low-income families each year. Seventy-three percent of the families served are extremely low-income, earning less than 30 percent of area median income. In Fairbanks for example that means that a family of four can’t earn more than $42,900 per year. The vouchers provided assistance to 529 individuals, included 303 children in in FY16.
- More than 400 Alaskan families have benefited since the inception of the program in November 2012.
MAKING THE CASE FOR ARTS AND BOOKS
AHFC does a great deal of work through partnership with various organizations whether it’s weatherizing homes, classes for energy efficiency, cold climate housing research or offering K12 schools a full curriculum for teaching energy literacy.
That’s also the model for how AHFC after-school programs for children living in public housing works. Through partners AHFC offered programs in Fairbanks and Juneau FY16.
In the capitol city, AHFC partnered with Juneau Arts and Humanities Council that supplies four “teachers” benefiting children at Cedar Park and Geneva Woods.
Well-known local artist, Jim Fowler has for the past 18-years offered his skills to children, by running an art program and helping out with homework. Juneau Empire has the full story on Jim Fowler’s dedication and work with children.
In Fairbanks, 5th and 6th graders who live at Birch Park had the benefit of participating in The Literacy Council’s Bookcase for Every Child with books and reading skills as main focus.
SCHOLARSHIPS FOR YOUTH EDUCATION
Science, horseback riding, fishing, dancing and much, much more. AHFC’s Summer Camp is a fun and educational treat for kids ages 6 to 17. The FY16 funds covered 123 scholar ships benefiting 86 public housing families with some families receiving the maximum of two scholarships. The participants represented 11 communities statewide Anchorage, Bethel, Fairbanks, Homer, Juneau, Kodiak, Mat-Su, Nome, Petersburg, Soldotna and Wrangell.