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New affordable housing development for seniors to open in Bel Aire next year

Homestead Affordable Housing broke ground on the affordable housing units in Bel Aire in early November.
Photo courtesy of CVS
Homestead Affordable Housing broke ground on the affordable housing units in Bel Aire in early November.

A new affordable residence for seniors will open in Bel Aire next year after receiving a $6.2 million investment from CVS Health.

Homestead Affordable Housing is the nonprofit developer overseeing the project, which will have 36 one- and two-bedroom units. Known as Homestead Senior Residences, it will serve people over 55 earning less than 60% of the area’s median income.

“They were the tellers at the bank, and the teachers, and the radio interviewers and things like that,” said Tom Bishop, executive director of Homestead Affordable Housing.

The units will accept housing vouchers, and rent will be set at fair market standards or less. For Sedgwick County in 2022, that’s $635 for a one-bedroom apartment.

“We do the best we can to keep the rents as low as possible and to set up the properties so that we're property-tax exempt,” Bishop said. “That also helps us to pass that savings along to the residents.”

The city of Bel Aire issued industrial revenue bonds for the project so that Homestead Seniors Residences would receive a property tax exemption.

The project will be made up of nine complexes with four units each. The first complex will be completed in April and the last should be finished by September, Bishop said.

The project will also include a community building with activities for residents such as a computer center, fitness center, library and event space.

Bishop said the need for affordable housing around the state is high. And nearly one in four low-income renters in Kansas are senior households, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

“All of the projects that we have developed around the state are full with waiting lists,” Bishop said.

Bishop said about two-thirds of the project’s funding comes from low-income housing tax credits, like CVS Health bought. The rest of the money comes from a federal grant program and a permanent loan.

Jane Brown, the CEO of CVS/Aetna Better Health of Kansas, said the company invested in the project because housing is a key determinant of people’s health.

“Inadequate housing conditions in particular are associated with physical and mental illnesses through a multitude of ways,” Brown said. “If you have mold in your house, you’re more likely to have autoimmune responses or various respiratory problems, so social determinants of health do present higher rates of common chronic conditions.”

Purchasing the low-income housing tax credits also gives investors like CVS Health a dollar-for-dollar reduction in their federal tax liability.

Bishop said he hopes to add 84 more units to the Bel Aire project in the future but is waiting on more funding.

Celia Hack is a general assignment reporter for KMUW. Before KMUW, she worked at The Wichita Beacon covering local government and as a freelancer for The Shawnee Mission Post and the Kansas Leadership Center’s The Journal. She is originally from Westwood, Kansas, but Wichita is her home now.