By Sophie Foster
Last September, Town Councilman Tim O’Brien implored Chestertown to fund rent relief for the residents of a local neighborhood, many of whom were facing potential eviction; presently, Kent Attainable Housing and Chesapeake Neighbors are partnering to provide town residents with more affordable housing opportunities moving forward.
To approach this goal, the two organizations intend to develop rental units on a High Street property previously owned by Kent Attainable Housing and now purchased by Chesapeake Neighbors.
According to Chief Development and Community Engagement Officer of Kent Attainable Housing Dylan Grimes, Kent Attainable Housing came into possession of a property and decided it was in the best interest of the organization to sell the property to Chesapeake Neighbors.
“This partnership came about because Kent Attainable Housing had a property where we could not build single-family units and we deemed it in the community’s best interest to partner with Chesapeake Neighbors to bring more affordable rental units to Kent County,” Grimes said.
The cooperative endeavor was borne from a shared focused on establishing safe affordable housing for Kent County residents on the broadscale, according to Executive Director of Chesapeake Neighbors Judi Olinger.
This joining of forces first occurred when Partner at Rivers and Roads Consulting Sam Shoge suggested that “there might be synergy between the two organizations” after Rivers and Roads and Chesapeake Neighbors worked with one another. Shoge, a Kent County native, organized a meeting between Kent Attainable Housing and Chesapeake Neighbors, seeing a commonality in their aspirations for the region.
Currently Chesapeake Neighbors owns and operates more than 60 units in the state of Maryland, with the intention of continuing to expand, according to an article in Kent County News by Hannah Combs. Kent Attainable Housing, meanwhile, centers the construction of new and rehabilitation of pre-existing affordable homes for families and residents with limited incomes, as well as getting applicants mortgage-ready, focusing on budget management and financial planning with the end goal of enabling them to purchase a newly renovated home.
“KAH and Chesapeake Neighbors are great complimentary organizations, with KAH focused on creating homeownership opportunities in Kent County and Chesapeake Neighbors focused on developing affordable rentals across Maryland,” President of Kent Attainable Housing Taylor Frey said in a press release. “We hope this is the beginning of a partnership that brings more housing to working families, and we’re glad to welcome Chesapeake Neighbors to Kent County.”
Where Kent Attainable Housing’s goal is to make home ownership a possibility for as many people as possible, Chesapeake Neighbors “believes that not all people desire…or are ready for home ownership but are in need of affordable rental housing,” Olinger said. “We see the opportunity to look at various projects to include both options for Kent County residents.”
This overlap in the desire to provide options to those who don’t otherwise have them is the core of their work together.
Olinger, who is responsible for the development and management of quality affordable housing in her capacity as executive director, hopes that this partnership will mean that more people of all incomes can afford necessary, quality housing for those in Kent County.
“As we continue to develop attainable housing in Kent County, opportunities for affordable housing will increase for all residents, including students,” Olinger said.
Grimes shares in this aspiration. According to Grimes, Kent Attainable Housing hopes the impact of this project will be bringing more affordable homeownership opportunities to the community, including rental housing and transitional housing.
“We would definitely like the community to know that this is a good thing,” Grimes said. “Sometimes there’s a stigma around affordable housing. In Kent County it’s a definite need. This will really help our community.”
Elm Archive Photo
Photo Caption: Affordable rental units will arrive soon to a new High Street location.