The Lodges on Lincoln is a newly constructed 56-unit development in Selma and is comprised of two- and three-bedroom units ranging from 1053 square feet to 1230 square feet. The development serves current and previous Dallas county residents who are just starting families, have one-person head of households, or are elderly, disabled, and/or previously homeless. These populations are on a fixed, limited income and benefit from the affordable, low-income housing offered at The Lodges on Lincoln.
Debbie Smith, office manager for Olympia Management Inc., the company overseeing the management duties and day-to-day operations of the development, said, “The Lodges on Lincoln is a close-knit community that strives to accommodate the values of Americans who value the ability to live in a friendly community that's clean, healthy, safe, and law-abiding. The development is in the city of Selma, but has a secluded suburban atmosphere that seems to protect the community from the everyday hustle of the city.”
$1.6 million in HOME funds (2017) and $817,197 in Housing Credits (2017)
The Lodges on Lincoln has a spacious community building with a computer center and exercise/fitness center available at no charge to residents. Smith said, “The community center provides the tenants with areas to wash their clothes, reach simple fitness goals, and to gather to learn or celebrate special occasions. The center also has a kitchen and dining area with a full-size refrigerator, microwave, lounging area, and two televisions that have access to the local cable network.”
In addition, the community has a number of other amenities tenants can enjoy outdoors such as a covered picnic pavilion, BBQ facilities, mail center, covered bus stop shelter and playground.
“Most importantly, the management staff knows each tenant by their first name and provides monthly information to help tenants better manage their apartments and utility billing concerns,” said Smith. With on-site maintenance, tenant unit concerns are handled in a professional, courteous manner, and the property manager provides personal service for each tenant as if she is a resident in the development.
Completed in early 2020, The Lodges on Lincoln was working to become fully leased during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic caused slight delays in the lease-up process because of the adjusted hours of outside vendors and businesses.
“The process caused four to six week delays due to potential tenants’ inability to obtain necessary paperwork on-demand,” said Smith. “Most government offices were either closed to the public or operating under severe restrictions. The efficient and effective use of technology became paramount.”
Despite the challenges, the management staff kept regular business hours and worked diligently and carefully through the pandemic to complete the lease-up process in August. Enhanced safety protocols were enacted to accommodate social distancing as well as the use of PPE, etc.
The Lodges on Lincoln partnered with Cahaba Regional Mental Health and Alabama Rural Coalition for the Homeless (ARCH) to provide supportive services to tenants experiencing homelessness due to disabilities.
By working in conjunction with the service providers, the development has been able to house two previously homeless families with heads of households with disabilities and three families with disabilities. The disability units are equipped with special equipment to accommodate tenants with special needs such as light powered doorbells, wider room entrances, and emergency switches in each room.
“Maintaining an acceptable level of service is always a challenge,” said Smith. “However, the leadership provided by our regional property manager gives us viable alternatives to address challenges and meets resident needs. Our corporate management staff provides us with assistance if necessary. They are just an email or phone call away.”
For other developers of affordable housing interested in offering similar supportive services, Smith strongly recommends good relationships between the ownership entities, management companies, and service providers. She also recommends building a skilled management staff with excellent customer service and flexibility to ensure the development’s are meeting the needs of the tenants.
“We have learned that communication is vital to ensure that program requirements are achieved, while furthering the goal of providing safe and affordable housing,” said Smith. “Management agents should begin discussions with service providers prior to pre-leasing efforts and ensure that on-going communication occurs.”