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The NHT Preservation Model: Innovative, Complex and Replicable

By Michael Bodaken

After a devastating fire in Monseñor Romero Apartments, an affordable apartment building in D.C.'s rapidly gentrifying Mount Pleasant neighborhood, National Housing Trust Enterprise Preservation Corporation (NHT-Enterprise) worked with residents, the local government, and community leaders to rehabilitate the property, preserve the affordability, and return residents to their homes. Featured in the Urban Institute's recent Anatomy of a Preservation Deal policy brief, Monseñor Romero Apartments highlight the complexities of preserving existing affordable housing while demonstrating that meeting the demand is not insurmountable. Though the tragedy of this fire is unique, the techniques used to preserve these homes are entirely replicable. 

Renovating Monseñor Romero included rebuilding the ravaged first tower to perfectly match the second tower, retaining the historic character of both buildings and garnering critical support from the community and the Mount Pleasant Historic Association. Knitting NHT-Enterprise's commitment to achieving historic designation with its commitment to sustainability was at times challenging, but NHT-Enterprise worked with tenants to develop energy efficiency solutions that met their needs.  As the p0licy brief reminds us, "the acquisition and restoration of Monseñor Romero Apartments provides key lessons for other housing practitioners and policymakers for its neighborhood context, acquisition strategy, and its physical rehabilitation strategy centered on both historic preservation and green building."

Preserving and improving affordable housing in areas with easy access to jobs, good schools and healthy spaces is crucial to building healthy communities.  That's why NHT-Enterprise continues to develop housing communities similar to Monseñor Romero

But we can't do this work alone and we strive to show that our approach is replicable across the nation. By focusing on real estate development, rehabilitation, financing, and housing policy, NHT-Enterprise has preserved affordable units for tens of thousands of vulnerable families and seniors.  By embracing innovation and incorporating sustainable technologies into all its rehabilitated properties, tenants are living in both healthier and more affordable homes.

The case studies presented by the Urban Institute as part of their Anatomy of a Preservation Deal series detail how other developers are also combining funding sources, employing policy tools, and forming collaborative relationships with stakeholders to preserve critical affordable housing. (Note: All the case studies featured in Anatomy of a Preservation Deal come from members of The National Preservation Working Group (PWG), a national network of housing developers and advocates convened by NHT to secure effective housing federal policy.) Read more about these innovations in preserving affordable housing from around the country on PrezCat