Howard University Joins Forces with Amazon Housing Equity Fund to Bring Affordable Housing Options to Community

Howard University Joins Forces with Amazon Housing Equity Fund to Bring Affordable Housing Options to Community

Howard University President Ben Vinson, III, Ph.D., formally announced the acquisition of Howard Manor, an 80-unit apartment building that will provide affordable housing options for individuals and families.

Joining President Vinson at the announcement in the building’s courtyard were Senthil Sankaran, AHEF managing principal; Colleen Green, executive director of the District of Columbia’s Department of Housing and Community Development; District of Columbia City Councilman at-Large Kenyan McDuffie (B.A. ’02) and Kyle Eaton, chief operating officer for Urban Investment Partners, the company responsible for managing the construction project.

Community members were also in attendance to help the University usher in a new chapter for the historic building, which first opened in the 1950s and was once home to former Howard University president from 1960 – 1965 James Nabrit as well as several accomplished business owners and community leaders.

This renovation and preservation project, the first of its kind for a Historically Black College and University (HBCU), is a shining example of what can happen when private-public partnerships come together to benefit people in the communities they serve. It is also in alignment with District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser’s goal to have 12,000 units of affordable housing in communities across the District of Columbia.

“Quality housing is a fundamental human need, yet far too many adults face challenges as they navigate the pathway to affordable housing for themselves and their families. The Howard Manor project aims to address this by providing affordable housing to dozens of families, allowing them to be proud members of our community,” said President Vinson. “At Howard, we’re committed to driving change and providing solutions and, through this project, we’re doing just that. As the only HBCU to create opportunities for affordable housing for members of the community, we’re not just leading the way for others to follow, but we’re aligned with Mayor Bowser’s visionary work to ensure that affordable housing options are available throughout all parts of the District of Columbia for those in greatest need.”

Located at Georgia Avenue and Girard Street, Howard Manor was once a jewel of the community. But, in 2021, a complete gut renovation started, work made possible through $31.3 million secured through the Amazon Housing Equity Fund to support the preservation of the building and conversion of the units to affordable housing. The funding consists of an $8.8 million permanent loan to acquire the building and an additional $22.5 million at acquisition.

This loan is part of Howard University’s larger commitment to create affordable units on the land it owns in Columbia Heights and the District’s Ward 1. In 2017, Howard University promised the District that it would deliver between 50-100 affordable units for households earning up to 60% of the area median income (AMI.) With the 80 units at Howard Manor, the University has honored its commitment, with every unit remaining affordable at 60% AMI for 99 years.

“Partnering with non-traditional and minority-led organizations to create and preserve affordable housing is an integral part of Amazon Housing Equity Fund’s work. Howard University has a long-standing reputation for empowering its community through education and outreach. Through this partnership, the preservation of Howard Manor is a unique opportunity for both organizations to expand that community impact and increase the affordable housing stock in Washington D.C.,” said Sankaran.

Since its launch in 2021, the Amazon Housing Equity Fund has committed more than $1.7 billion to create or preserve more than 14,000 affordable homes for renters across the company’s hometown communities, including more than $1 billion to create or preserve over 7,300 affordable homes for renters and homeowners in the Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia region.

In a statement issued after the announcement, Mayor Bowser said, “Affordable housing is a critical component of a more equitable D.C. Howard University delivering on its promise to bring more affordable units to the District reflects how our local universities are not only places to learn, but also real partners in our communities.”

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