Local nonprofits’ efforts help keep Seven Corners rent low

Latasha Webb

University students living in West Bank’s Seven Corners apartment complex would have been paying higher rent if West Bank Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization, hadn’t bought the property from the previous owners, Shelter Corp.

“The contract was up on the building,” said City Council Member Joan Campbell. “The possibility of the entire building going market-rate presented itself.”

The federal government regularly assists property owners with funding for large buildings to keep the units affordable, Campbell said.

Often when a property owner’s contract with the federal government expires, the owner raises rents to make up the difference and increase profit.

“When the contract was up, there was a need to refinance to maintain affordability,” Campbell said.

Former owners, Shelter Corp., began to consider increasing rent prices in spring 2000.

But when students living in the complex expressed concern, residents, City Council members and neighborhood groups began exploring alternative options.

“We acquired the property in November 2000 with the intention of keeping rents affordable,” said Tim Mungavan, executive director of West Bank Community Development Corp.

“Rents are going up rapidly,” he said. “(Shelter Corp.) could have made a substantial profit had we not bought the property.”

The nonprofit corporation has been working to change the face of Seven Corners.

Rents currently range from $542 per month for an efficiency, to more than $1000 for a three-bedroom apartment.

Mungavan said under West Bank Community Development Corp.’s management, students won’t have to worry about rents increasing to market value.

“We are committed to lowering rents over time,” he said.

And although every student will agree low rents are better than expensive ones, Mungavan said his organization is also planning to diversify the mostly student complex.

“We’ll have more of a mix, but we’ll still have primarily students,” he said. “We’ll probably have more non-traditional students.”

 

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