FOR MID-CITY URBAN, SUSTAINABILITY is as much about people as it is about materials. The Silver Spring, Md.–based developer has introduced a model for the replacement of obsolete public housing that creates new, affordable homes without relying on public subsidies for development costs, all the while preparing low-income residents for homeownership.
The first application is Legacy at Lincoln Park, a six-acre community of townhouses and single-family homes currently under construction on the site of a former housing project in Rockville, Md. Working in partnership with Rockville Housing Enterprises, an independent city agency, Mid-City Urban paid to relocate existing tenants before the original buildings were razed. When the new neighborhood opens in spring 2006, each of those former tenants will have first dibs on purchasing one of 60 new homes.
To date, 80 percent of former residents have taken advantage of a developer-sponsored training program focusing on homeownership counseling, credit management, and career training. Several graduates already have qualified to purchase new homes.
Ironically, NIMBY resistance to rental property helped catalyze the alternative approach. “The stars were aligned for this model,” says Vicki Davis, president of Mid-City Urban. “We had a really good real estate market, a progressive housing authority, and a community that wanted it.”