Buckeye Fields Senior Apartments–a proposed 64-unit affordable apartment complex for senior citizens in Marietta Township, Washington County, Ohio–is on its way to becoming a reality, thanks to an announcement today by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency of a tax credit award of $9,000,000 to its sponsor, Buckeye Hills Support Services (BHSS).

When completed in 2021, Buckeye Fields will provide affordable housing for 64 senior households in cottage-style duplexes on the grounds of the Washington County Home. The project will incorporate renewable energy generation on-site to allow the property to include all utilities in the rent, making it exceptionally affordable to seniors on a fixed budget. The buildings will be designed to allow seniors to live in a community setting, all while enjoying the natural beauty of the region from their front porches.

“This project is establishing a model for developing innovative senior affordable housing that fully incorporates supportive services,” said Rick Hindman, Executive Director of Buckeye Hills Support Services. “This model is designed specifically for senior housing in rural areas and can be replicated throughout southeast Ohio and the state.”

In an innovative plan, Buckeye Hills Regional Council (BHRC) will coordinate supportive services to the residents of Buckeye Fields, paid for by the revenues from the apartments. This will improve the quality of the residents’ lives without relying on additional state or federal funding.

“The Washington County commissioners provided critical support for the project with a long-term lease for the land near the Washington County Home,” added Misty Crosby, Executive Director of Buckeye Hills Regional Council. “And Ohio Representative Jay Edwards, recognizing the impact of this project and its potential to impact the quality of life for seniors in our region, advocated for the proposal in Columbus. We couldn’t have done it without him.”

The tax credit award, a crucial first step to construction, invites private investors to fund the construction of the project in return for reducing their tax bill. Over $8 million in private investment from outside the region will be directed to Buckeye Fields’ construction.

Housing tax credits are awarded once a year after a tough competitive process. This year, 88 projects across Ohio applied for funding; Buckeye Fields was one of just 37 projects that were approved. It is the first housing tax credit award in Washington County in eight years. Given the great need for quality affordable housing across Appalachian Ohio, BHSS aims to continue developing more tax credit housing across its service area in coming years.

“This partnership between Buckeye Hills Regional Council, Buckeye Hills Support Services, Washington County Job & Family Services, and Washington County’s senior service providers is an exciting new chapter for our region,” said Crosby. “Since 1974, BHRC has been southeast Ohio’s Area Agency on Aging, helping seniors maintain their independence in their homes and communities. And as the region’s council of governments, our members embraced the opportunity to form BHSS to build on our experience responsibly managing public projects and recognizing the region’s growing need for affordable senior housing.”

Buckeye Hills Support Services (BHSS) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating opportunities for affordable housing in conjunction with readily accessible services, supports, and programming for senior citizens in the Buckeye Hills Regional Council service region of Athens, Hocking, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, Perry, and Washington counties. The BHSS board is led by Meigs County Economic Development Director Perry Varnadoe, Washington County Job & Family Services Director Flite Freimann, Athens County Commissioner Lenny Eliason, Christine Baker, and Brenda Hinton, of Silver Heels Property Management.

Also participating as co-developers in the project are Community Building Partners and Lowenstein Development, LLC, experienced developers of affordable housing based in Columbus. Other partners include Unibilt (which will provide prefabricated modules for the buildings) and DS2 Architects (which will oversee the site plan). Wesbanco will provide the construction and permanent financing, and Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing will syndicate the tax credits to investors.

Buckeye Hills Regional Council is a council of governments dedicated to improving the lives of residents in southeast Ohio. By working collaboratively with elected officials across Athens, Hocking, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, Perry, and Washington counties, Buckeye Hills connects local, state, and federal resources to communities with their Aging & Disability, Community Development, Mapping & Data, Population Health, and Transportation Planning divisions.

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