To the editor:
We don’t often see four entities with different missions team up on one project. However, I’d like to point out one perfect example that brought together a nonprofit housing organization, a historic preservation advocacy group, a neighborhood association and Douglas County.
The cozy 1800s bungalow at 1120 Rhode Island is on the National Historic Register but, until recently, it was a leaning, dilapidated mess. After an exhaustive renovation, it now serves dual, noble purposes of historic preservation and affordable housing. Without intervention from the following very different groups, this house would have remained a gently rotting neighborhood blight.
The East Lawrence Neighborhood Association originally petitioned for a solution; the Lawrence Preservation Alliance got involved and convinced Rebecca Buford, executive director of Tenants to Homeowners, Inc., to rehabilitate the home for affordable housing.
This is a perfect example of teamwork among opposites. TTH’s mission of affordable housing is generally antithetical to the expense of historic preservation. However, because Douglas County generously conveyed the property and the LPA donated $15,000 and found buyers for $38,000 of state historic tax credits, this otherwise cost-prohibitive project became possible.
TTH bankrolled the renovation and put the home “in trust,” investing a one-time subsidy to the first income-eligible family, requiring that when they move, they resell to another buyer of modest means at a formula price that allows them to earn equity while keeping the home affordable.
In these troubled times, collaboration seems elusive; but it works, it is possible and it is happening.