I spent a few minutes chatting with Dionne Brown, the Regional Manager who oversaw the renovation and revamp of Timothy House & Gardens, in Annapolis, MD. Owned by Homes For America, and managed by Humphrey Management, the community is comprised of a mid-rise apartment building and townhomes that were badly in need of upgrades, both inside and out.
The project was a labor of love, and culminated in another successful renovation and rebranding by Homes For America & Humphrey Management. The apartment building, consisting of 60 apartments, has been renamed Bowman Place. The name is a tribute to the late Reverend Leroy Bowman, the influential Annapolis pastor and Civil Rights leader. Located off Monument Street, the 21 townhomes of Homes at Monument round out the redevelopment.
Q: How would you describe the project prior to the renovation & rebranding?
A: This community was an eyesore in the Annapolis downtown neighborhood. It was in horrible condition and the residents’ quality of life was negatively impacted by infestation of pests, inefficient heat and A/C, and lacked desperately needed resources, just to name a few major issues.
Q: What improvements were completed?
A: The townhomes received new roofs, gutters, windows, doors, siding, flooring, kitchens, bathrooms, lighting, electrical upgrades, porch replacement, and new washers and dryers – which were not in the prior townhomes. The apartments received new lighting, flooring, bathrooms, kitchens, windows, and upgraded to individual heat & A/C. All common area spaces were also renovated, including a new beautiful library, community space, office, updated furnishings, fitness center, leasing office, bathrooms; a new porch was added on the front of building, and a new patio was added outside in the courtyard.
Q: What was the timeline for the renovation?
A: Construction began in 2017, and was completed in the Summer 2018.
Q: What were some of the greatest challenges, and how did the team overcome them?
A: One of the first challenges was getting the residents to believe this renovation would actually take place; there were also unforeseen construction issues that caused delays. Once things were underway and apartment homes were ready, excitement spread among the residents, and everyone wanted to be first to have their apartment completed. This was an in-place rehab, which meant that most residents remained in their apartment home during the entire construction process. We appreciated the patience of the residents as their daily lives were disrupted by all of the upheaval to their personal and common areas spaces they were accustomed to using.
Q: What has been the response from the residents?
A: The response has been overwhelmingly positive! At first, residents were skeptical that this project would ever be completed – they thought that it was just another promise that would never come to life. One of the most touching encounters was when a resident said, “Mrs. Brown, now I can bring my family to my home for the first time in 10 years without feeling ashamed or feeling like they did not want to come in.” Another memorable comment was: “Mrs. Dionne, I can cook my first turkey in my full-size oven for Thanksgiving.” A townhome resident said, “It’s so nice to be able to do laundry at home without having to walk four loads of clothes to the laundromat.” One gentleman said, “Ms. Brown this is the nicest place I have even been to. I am going to keep it clean and see that everyone else does too.”
Q: What is your favorite thing about the community after the renovation & rebranding?
A: The fitness center – it’s so nice to see the residents using this area and enjoying time and company together for good use. They have started a little exercise group and they play music; it’s wonderful to see more resident involvement in the community.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of being part of a project like this, and for someone not familiar with the affordable housing industry, what would you share with them about the role affordable housing plays in communities?
A: I don’t think I can pick just one- there’s so many rewarding things: working with an owner who really cared and kept their word, the support from the residents, our community team members – it was just a collaboration of so many people who really wanted this to happen. It’s heart-felt to see it here. It meant a lot to me because, for me, I feel that affordable housing is the platform to improving a person’s quality of being. Safe and secure housing is a basic human need; it’s not a choice, and I can recall a person saying to me years ago when I was doing community organizing, “I should not have to choose between paying my rent or feeding my family. Because of affordable housing, I don’t have to choose anymore.” That stuck with me through the last 16 years of my career. I would tell that to anyone who is not familiar with the program. Quality affordable housing should be the foundation for creating stable, strong communities. Investing in affordable housing will create great neighborhoods, with resources for everyone within the community. This is why I do what I do, why we, at Humphrey Management, do what we do. Creating thriving communities isn’t just a tagline – it’s at the core of everything we do.
-Kristy Scholl, Director of Sales & Marketing