Flexible financing kept crucial affordable housing project afloat

It was called “monumental,” “pioneering,” and “the most important affordable housing project in New England.”

Man seated on rail outside apartments
Twin Pines executive director Andrew Winter says the Community Loan Fund was instrumental in helping to complete the challenging Gile Hill housing project.

Gile Hill is one of the most ambitious and complex housing developments in New Hampshire. Located in Hanover, where rental apartments are both scarce and pricey, the project is also much needed by working families. The Twin Pines Housing Trust, an Upper Valley nonprofit housing developer, had a grand plan for Gile Hill. Half of the project’s 120 rentals and condominiums would be affordable for working families.

The “green” housing, built to Energy Star standards, was located on a regional bus route and within an easy walk or bike ride of the area’s largest employer, the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

The Community Loan Fund had worked with Twin Pines numerous times before Gile Hill broke ground in 2006. Twin Pines borrowed to help launch the $35-million project, then to bridge a construction financing shortfall.

When the recession hit, Gile’s condo sales slowed to a crawl and prices dipped. The project’s other major financing partner threatened to foreclose. Knowing the importance of the Gile Hill housing, and of Twin Pines’ work in the region, the Community Loan Fund revised its loan agreements, delayed repayment and extended flexible capital to keep the project afloat.

The Community Loan Fund’s patience, technical assistance, partnership and moral support were critical, said Twin Pines Executive Director Andrew Winter. “Twin Pines could not have completed this exceedingly complex and challenging project without the Community Loan Fund beside us every step of the way.”

With the recovery of the housing market, Twin Pines will now finish the Gile project. The result will be 76 more families in apartments they can afford, 44 more who own homes within walking distance to good jobs, and a high-functioning nonprofit continuing to provide affordable housing in a market that would not otherwise have it.

This story was published in the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund's 2013 annual report.