Verne Barry Place in Grand Rapids, MI has won a 2009 Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Award in the Metropolitan/Urban Housing category.

Photo Courtesy of National Equity Fund, Inc. and Dwelling Place Group/Brian Kelly

In 2008, developer Dwelling Place Group partnered with the National Equity Fund, Inc. to rehabilitate and expand a public housing project, which began as four small, separate hotels.  From that, Verne Barry Place was born and now provides 116 units of affordable rental housing, with a major portion of the units dedicated to serving formerly homeless, disabled individuals. 

Verne Barry Place is part of Michigan’s Cool Cities program designed to revitalize distressed neighborhoods throughout the state.  Through the addition of seven live/work spaces included in the property, Verne Barry Place is an active participant in this now thriving neighborhood. 

Residents benefit from extensive programming at Verne Barry Place, designed to allow residents a self-sufficient and fulfilling lifestyle.  There are two fulltime resident services coordinators on property, who help arrange access to employment services, alcohol and drug counseling, medical care, and other social services.  Residents can take part in GED training, English as a second language and art classes, computer training, and counseling provided through Heartside Ministry.  A partnership with nearby Ferguson Apartments allows residents who are not able to cook for themselves to participate in a meal plan; and free health and dental clinics are located within blocks of the property.  The entire development is handicap accessible and includes eight wheelchair accessible, barrier free units. 

In addition to being well designed for accessibility concerns, Verne Barry Place is a LEED-certified gold level property.  Twenty percent of the materials used have high-recyclable content.  There is a live vegetative roof, a high-efficiency heating system, and motion-sensor lighting.  Keeping with the recycling theme, Holiday Inn donated $140,000 in furniture to furnish the apartments. 

Verne Barry Place combined $14.6 million in credits (Housing Credits and historic tax credits) with grants from the Downtown Development Authority of Grand Rapids and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority’s Signature Building Grants program.  Additional funding was obtained through HOME funds, Federal Home Loan Bank Affordable Housing Program funds, and an $8 million construction loan from Charter One Bank.  An additional $1.4 million in donations from local organizations and the surrounding community demonstrate the extraordinary community support enjoyed by Verne Barry Place. 

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