Featured Property Silver Leaf Terrace

Silver Leaf Terrace, located in Leominster, MA, is a 215 unit property that was awarded New England's Affordable Housing Management Association's Community of Quality Award for the Outstanding Turnaround of a Troubled Property in 2012.

Silver Leaf was once known as Litchfield Terrace and was the financially and physically distressed housing of last resort where families were forced to live in deteriorated, decrepit units where criminal activity left residents in fear of their family's safety and security.

Its re-introduction to the housing stock in preserved decent and more affordable housing for residents of the town. The impact of the $8.625 million revitalization of the community has resulted in both a financial and physical transformation; Silver Leaf Terrace is now a cost effective property providing safe, affordable housing in several areas. The project was developed below replacement cost, which in the central Massachusetts market could cost $180,000 per unit, the actual total development cost per unit for all units totaled $112,589.

The critical analysis performed on the buildings' envelopes and systems combined with National Grid Energy Incentives in the amount of $250,000 lead to a deep energy retrofit plan which reduced energy costs by 28%.

A complete solar photovoltaic system funded through Massachusetts Technology CollaborativeGreen Affordable Housing Development Program loan in the amount of $420,000 and a grant in the amount of $40,000 funded the construction of a solar photovoltaic system at the project. The system was installed on the roof of the newly constructed management office and community center. The building takes full advantage of 100% of the electricity generated, offsetting approximately 30% of its annual electricity use (the 70kW system generates an estimated 88,375 kWh of electricity annually.)

The rehab incorporated the importance of technology and comfort which included a newly constructed management office, a brand new 852 square foot Community Room complete with Kitchenette, and a 225 square foot computer lab. Four new state of the art computers and printers with free internet access for the residents were added.

All 216 interior apartment homes were transformed with new kitchen cabinets, counter-tops, energy efficient appliances and flooring. Closets were added, along with new interior doors, hardware, new faucets, and water saving toilets, aerators and energy efficient lighting. Aesthetic upgrades included new store front entries, new hallway painting, upgraded door hardware, hallway carpeting, vinyl stair treads and energy efficient common hallway lighting.

Exterior upgrades included new landscaped gardens, new paved parking lots, line striping, sealcoating, dumpster enclosures, perimeter fencing and upgraded exterior lighting.

Each of the 18 buildings received new roofs, insulation, siding, trim, windows and HVAC systems. A new playground was constructed along with benches and three upgraded common laundry and mailbox centers.

A complete $150,000 state-of-the-art, cutting-edge video and voice technology surveillance system was installed which provides 24/7/365 real time video monitoring. The system includes a 29-camera video-voice system featuring analytics as well as an accompanying audio system. Each camera was strategically located to maximize coverage and effectiveness. In addition, the security system (Viewpoint) provides daily "patrols" of the property. These patrols, conducted by Viewpoint operators, integrate multiple audio announcements each time they're executed.Using high-tech equipment, operators who are handling patrols are able to make announcements through individual speakers located near each camera across the entire property.

At implementation, the system was producing an average of 12 incident reports per month. The site now reports a mere 1 report every two months, resulting in an overall decrease of 98%. This system is cost-effective, reducing the annual budget from $74,000 per year to $36,000. Ultimately, the proactive nature of the video system and the effectiveness of Viewpoint's patrols have helped to build a vibrant apartment community that, just a few short years ago, was known as a major hotspot for criminal activity. The criminal activity statistics provided by Leominster Police show a 70% decrease in arrests at the community over the last two years.

Since its opening, Silver Leaf has had a tremendous impact on residents. First and foremost is the feeling of community.

Silver Leaf Terraces' diverse population has been greatly impacted by the physical changes to the property along with the effective resident programs and services provided at the property. A once divided population is now a tightly knit community. Residents are united in the mission to maintain the integrity of their homes as well as the safety and security of their neighbors and surrounding community.

Silver Leaf now serves as a guardian to the community, and has effectively revitalized the entire area in a positive way. Silver Leafs commitment to education is demonstrated by the programs that are provided at the site. The management encourages kids to do well in school by offering an After School Homework Center, Academic Youth Leaders Program and summer break school activities. Open weekdays, the after school program was implemented in January of 2010 offering a safe, comfortable place for 30 children to do their homework daily. The Academic Youth Program designed for teenagers aged 14-18, recruits, hires and trains on-site teens. Three youth jobs were created through this innovative program, which were filled by Silver Leaf teens.

The summer youth program, in collaboration with Spanish American Center and the USDAProject Bread, serve free daily breakfasts and lunches. This program also encompasses educational, artistic, cultural, recreational, and physical enrichment for 40 of Silver Leafs children. Digital Credit Union's on-site mobile bus annually provides residents financial budgeting classes.Our most active relationship currently is with the Spanish American Center of Leominster, which acts as both a service provider and advocacy group. They provide translation services and sponsor afterschool and summer programs on site. As the host site in partnership with Leominster Housing Authority, Leominster Public School System, Allen Crest Community Center and the Spanish Heritage Center, residents have an opportunity to participate in English as a Second Language class.

Participation with Mass Housing's Tenant Assistance Program {TAP}.Support from the community and the state was crucial in Silver Leafs turnaround. In an area acclaimed as criminally corrupt, Silver Leaf Terrace was able to solve this problem with the unbelievable community support received.

Other Community Resources & Programs include:

  • Leominster Police Department
  • Pawtucket Red Sox
  • Leominster Fire Department
  • Drug Task Enforcement Team
  • Girls & Boys Club

Silver Leaf has worked closely with local service providers to offer applicants and residents the tools they need to achieve full employment. The Working Family Preference implemented at Silver Leaf has positively impacted the earned income of our residents by an average of 30% over a two-year period.

Successfully turning around Silver Leaf has had a profound effect on the greater community that is far reaching and lasting. A strong collaborative partnership with residents and management has provided the opportunity for resident and their children to live in a safe, supportive community full of educational and recreational enrichment's.

 

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