Take a video tour of the Hidden Pond Apartments and visit with residents at www.fhlbboston.com.
Brenda Hall had been living in Manchester, when she learned about the new Hidden Pond development in Amherst, New Hampshire. The mother of three children — two of them teenagers — Ms. Hall says she decided to move to Amherst to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and to fulfill a lifelong dream of living in a rural setting. “I just wanted more of a quiet, country setting,” she says. “The boys are happy here. I’ve never been happier in my life.” It was residents like Ms. Hall that NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire had in mind when it agreed to sponsor the Hidden Pond initiative, says Jennifer Vadney, NeighborWorks’ neighborhood development manager. Built in a rural, upper-income town outside of Nashua, the Hidden Pond
Apartments provides new affordable housing in a town that had none.
The Hidden Pond initiative includes 28 affordable two-bedroom apartments on a five-building site. Built within the town’s expanded historic district, the new development was designed to mimic the large historic homes typically found in the area. “As soon as the local paper reported that a new housing project would be built in town, we started getting phone calls,” Ms. Vadney says. “We had a waiting list literally the entire time the building was under construction. “I think one of our first calls was from somebody who worked at Town Hall,” she says. “We were also hearing stories about retirees who wanted to move back to town as well as young people who had grown up in town, left for college, and wanted to return if they could find affordable housing.”
Ms. Vadney says the town had a clear need for affordable rental housing. “A senior development had been built in Amherst several years ago — which was well received — but there hadn’t been construction of any new family rental housing.”
In recent years, NeighborWorks has focused more attention on the affordable housing needs of small towns like Amherst. “For many years we worked in Manchester — and continue to work there,” Ms. Vadney says. “But now we are working in communities outside of Manchester where we see a need for affordable housing. “Many people want to live in towns and rural areas, but they often find they can’t afford to live in them,” she says. “New Hampshire is still a small town place. Many folks want to live in the towns where they grew up. We think people should be able to find affordable housing in those places too.” Ms. Vadney says the Hidden Pond initiative was generally well-received by the Town of Amherst. “I think our biggest challenge was getting approval from the town’s Historic District Commission,” she says. “Construction had to follow the town’s historic guidelines, which added a layer of complexity to the project — but we got it done. “These are townhouses, but from a distance they look like large historic homes,” Ms. Vadney says. “In our new construction projects outsideof Manchester we have been focusing on townhouse-style developments,” she says, adding that the development was also built to Energy Star standards. “Families really appreciate the opportunity to live in a townhouse. They like having their own front doors and apartments on two levels. “Townhouses feel like a home of your own and give families room to spread out,” she says. “People appreciate the privacy that comes with a townhouse. I think they look for this when they move out of the city.” Residents of Hidden Pond include a mix of families and seniors. residents work in Amherst, in nearby Massachusetts, and in cities such as Nashua and Milford. “We had a handful of folks move in who were living temporarily with family members and didn’t have a home of their own,” Ms. Vadney says.
Primary funding for the Hidden Pond Apartments was Low Income Housing Tax Credits through New Hampshire Housing. “We were also fortunate to receive a
$365,000 Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston Affordable Housing Program grant through member Merrimack County Savings Bank,” she says. “This was our first project with Merrimack and they were super.”
“Partnering with NeighborWorks® Southern New Hampshire on this workforce housing initiative in Amherst was a pleasure,” says Lori Piper, senior vice president at Merrimack County Savings
Bank. “It has created much needed affordable rental housing in an affluent community and provided new opportunities for people who work in the community to live there as well.”
Credit: Robert O’Malley, Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston