by Joseph Purcell, Chief Financial Officer, The Michaels Organization, and AHTCC Board Member
At one time she thought of dropping out of high school; now, Ashley Jones has her sights set on getting a Master’s Degree. In the meantime, she’s focused on learning everything she can at her new job as an administrative assistant with Prestige Building Company, a full-service construction firm based in Marlton, NJ.
“I have a new place to live, I’m saving money, and I’m earning more money than I’ve ever thought possible,” says Ashley, who is 26. “If I’d not been given this opportunity, I would probably be flipping burgers or working retail, earning minimum wage.”
Ashley’s job is the direct result of an innovative youth build program, a Section 3-certified contracting company, and an affordable housing community being developed in Wilmington, DE, using private equity derived from the sale of federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (Housing Credits).
Many people know that there’s a severe shortage of affordable housing in this country. Some people know that the Housing Credit has been essential to financing the production of affordable housing. Surely everyone knows that housing construction generates good jobs. But what many people may not realize is how successful the Housing Credit has been in providing good jobs for individuals with low- and moderate-incomes who live in communities where affordable housing is being built. To date, the Housing Credit has supported more than 11,000 jobs in Delaware and created or preserved more than 10,000 affordable rental homes.
“We hold job fairs for local residents with low and moderate incomes in every community where we’re building affordable housing,” explains Dolly Dube, Project Administrator for Prestige Building Company. “Our job fairs make sure that people from the community where the construction is taking place have the first opportunity to get these jobs.”
Ashley Jones first met Dolly Dube at the job fair Dolly organized in October 2013 when Prestige Building Company was looking for subcontractors and other construction job employees for Jazz Court, an affordable housing community about to break ground in Wilmington, DE. Dolly reached out to a non-profit Youth Challenge program in Wilmington that helps at-risk youth learn the building trades and invites their young apprentices to participate in the job fair. More than 189 people were interviewed on the spot and 46 new employees were hired that very day, including Ashley Jones.
For more than a year, Ashley served as administrative support for the team at the construction site. Russell Maynard, President of Prestige Building Company, was particularly impressed with Ashley’s dedication and strong work ethic, which was always on display even as the construction work on-site was winding down. She was so good at her job, Russell said, that she was invited to apply for a full-time permanent administrative assistant position at Prestige’s corporate office.
The result has been a win-win-win for everyone: Prestige has an excellent employee who is eager to learn and to grow with the company. Ashley Jones has embarked on a career she enjoys that has the potential for advancement. And the community of Wilmington, DE, has a beautiful new housing community that blends seamlessly into the neighborhood and is affordable to families earning between 30% and 50% of the area median income.
“A lot of people believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself,” says Ashley, who says she is grateful for the opportunity to show just how much she is able to achieve when given the chance to do so.
Jazz Court is a three-story, 44-unit rental town home community located in the Eastside neighborhood of Wilmington, Delaware, affordable to households earning 30% to 60% of the area’s median income. Amenities include a 1,800 square foot community center where supportive services are offered to residents. Financing for the $9.5 million community includes $7.1 million in private equity raised through the sale of 9% low income housing tax credits and $500,000 in city funding. The development also benefited from land donated by Bank of America. Jazz Court was developed by The Michaels Development Company and is managed by Interstate Realty Management. The tax credits were syndicated by Prestige Affordable Housing Equity Partners. Michaels Development, Interstate Realty Management, Prestige Building Company, and Prestige Affordable Housing Equity Partners are all independent companies of The Michaels Organization, a family of companies dedicated to excellence in affordable, mixed-finance, military and student housing.