How Nonprofit Developer UREC Supports Affordable Housing in Louisiana

It takes a variety of organizations and their creative dedication to meet the huge need for affordable housing in Louisiana. That includes a host of nonprofit housing developers that are filling gaps unaddressed by the private housing market.

One of these vital stakeholders is the Baton Rouge-based Urban Restoration Enhancement Corp. (UREC), a nonprofit community development organization that transforms communities by investing in people and restoring neighborhoods.

Founded in 1992, the organization accomplishes its mission through community development projects that empower low- to moderate-income families in the Baton Rouge area — most recently the innovative Urban Garden Senior Village in North Baton Rouge.

A Focus on Helping Families

UREC President and CEO Carl Dillon says the organization’s core initiatives involve affordable housing, human development, and advocacy and research — all centered around providing high-quality social, economic and residential opportunities to families in the Baton Rouge area.

The organization offers first-time homebuyer seminars and credit-repair services, often through partnerships with banks. “What better person to facilitate that conversation about credit and first-time homebuyers than a lender?” Dillon says. “We’ll have them facilitate workshops on credit repair and pre-homebuyer training.”

UREC also has a successful track record in developing affordable housing projects in the region. The recently completed Urban Garden Senior Village is one initiative that demonstrates UREC’s mission in action. The project, which was completed early this year, created affordable-housing units for grandparents raising grandchildren and for people over age 55.

“North Baton Rouge was hit really hard by the flood, and that particularly affected low-income households and senior citizens,” Dillon says. “That was the reason we targeted not only that area but this type of development.”

The project, which was made possible through funding from the Louisiana Housing Corporation, is a duplex-style senior housing development consisting of eight three-bedroom homes. Each home has an open floor plan with energy-efficient kitchen appliances including a microwave oven, a full-size washer and dryer, stylish kitchen and bath cabinets, spacious walk-in closets, patio space and an enclosed parking garage.

“Some members of our senior community are on a fixed income, and when you’re taking care of a child on top of that, you need a place that’s affordable,” Dillon says.

Using LHC’s HOME Rental Housing Program

The Senior Village project added homes to the existing Urban Gardens neighborhood, which UREC previously built with 21 affordable-housing units. The neighborhood on the site of the old Hollywood Elementary School provided the first newly constructed homes in the area in more than 50 years. And the organization will break ground on another eight-unit single-family affordable-housing development this summer.

For the latest UREC project, LHC awarded $405,000 through the HOME Rental Housing Program, which provides loans to developers to build, buy or rehabilitate affordable housing and provides direct rental assistance to low-income individuals.

LHC serves as the administrator for HOME funds for the state of Louisiana and distributes them through a Notice of Funding Availability.

As a Community Housing Development Organization, UREC is well-positioned to take advantage of these funds and make a positive impact on the affordable housing landscape in the Baton Rouge area.

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