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Residents, Community Officials Celebrate Aya Tower in East Point following $24 Million Redevelopment

By The Associated Press

--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Apr 23, 2024--

Aya Tower residents in East Point, Georgia, as well as city officials, community members and business partners attended a grand opening event today to celebrate a revitalized affordable housing development, an effort on which national affordable and supportive housing developer the Vecino Group, UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), the National Affordable Housing Trust (NAHT), and the East Point Housing Authority (EPHA) all partnered. In addition to making safe and affordable housing available, several health and social services will be offered in adjacent buildings for Aya Tower residents and the full community.

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Residents, Community Officials Celebrate Aya Tower in East Point following $24 Million Redevelopment photo credit: Melissa East / Courtesy of Vecino Group

Aya Tower, which had been vacant since 2004, experienced a $24 million redevelopment by national affordable and supportive housing developer the Vecino Group, and now includes 88 affordable one- and two-bedroom apartments for families earning between $30,000 and $40,000 annually. The property is managed by Wingate Properties Management and opened to residents earlier this year.

“This development is poised to be transformative for East Point,” said Wesley Brown, director of development, southeast for the Vecino Group. “Together with our partners, we turned blight into beauty. Even early on, local residents repeatedly shared how excited they were to have this building coming back to life. And community has been key from the beginning — not only in serving the housing need but also in communicating civic pride and the power of place.”

The Atlanta area remains one of America’s largest and fastest-growing markets. Increased housing costs in what was previously considered an affordable metro area have put pressure on low- and middle-income families. Atlanta has experienced some of the fastest-rising rents in the country in recent years.

“We look forward to this investment sparking additional local economic vitality and providing relief for those being squeezed by the Atlanta housing crisis,” said Michael Spann, executive director for EPHA. “And residents will benefit all the more from the health and social services that have been made available onsite.”

An $18 million investment in the Aya Tower redevelopment was made by UnitedHealth Group through Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), with the remaining balance provided by other investors. The company invested in housing tax credits for more than a decade.

In addition to the investment for the Aya Tower housing, UnitedHealth Group also worked to identify and recruit health services through Grady Health System, and workforce readiness training through Goodwill of North Georgia. These health and workforce development services will be made available and managed by the East Point Housing Authority in community areas within the Aya Tower building, and at its newly purchased property nearby once it has been redeveloped.

“Safe and affordable housing is key to health and wellness,” said Catherine Anderson, senior vice president of health equity strategy, UnitedHealth Group. “UnitedHealth Group is honored to support East Point residents by increasing the availability of housing, as well as supportive services that help ensure better health and wellness among residents.”

As part of its redevelopment, the Aya Tower building’s exterior will feature art to honor former East Point Mayor Patsy Jo Hilliard. The Vecino Group and the EPHA commissioned a mural to honor Hilliard as someone whose service had a significant impact toward the city’s present successes.

Through her public service from 1993 through 2006, Mayor Hilliard was instrumental in uniting the community to enable enduring, positive impact by revitalizing the public library, delivering the city’s first community health clinic, and fostering relationships with civic and business leaders. Its longest-tenured mayor to date, in 1993 she made history as the first female and first African American to hold the office in the history of East Point – as well in the state.

The artwork, created by Atlanta-based artist Erica Chisolm, combines Adinkra symbols with a vibrant portrait of Mayor Hilliard, as well as her favorite saying “be true to thyself.” The team also included the Atlanta-based art collective Living Walls, which specializes in large-scale, culturally inspired public art. The seven-story piece – all painted by hand – was completed late Spring 2023.

“NAHT is honored to originate and manage UnitedHealth Group’s investment in Aya Tower,” said Lori Little, president & CEO of the National Affordable Housing Trust. “For over three decades, NAHT has helped developers create and preserve affordable homes by connecting them with impact capital investment funds. Our partnership with UnitedHealth Group has provided much-needed capital for quality homes and services, increasing positive health outcomes for families and seniors. Vecino and East Point Housing Authority are to be congratulated for restoring this much needed housing. We are honored to be a part of this effort.”

UnitedHealth Group’s coordinated investment strategy in housing, health and social services demonstrates a deep commitment to advancing health equity. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, households that struggle to pay the rent are at a heightened risk for negative health outcomes.

About the Vecino Group

The Vecino Group is a national housing company dedicated to building a better world, one development, one community at a time. Each project the company undertakes must address a broader need, set an example, give back to the community, and inspire the professionals working on it with a sense of higher purpose. The company has completed more than two dozen impactful housing developments across 12 states.

About the East Point Housing Authority

The Housing Authority of the City of East Point (EPHA) is a public body created under the Laws of the State of Georgia and in compliance with other relevant federal and state statutes. The primary purpose of this organization is to provide safe, decent and affordable housing for low- income citizens of the City of East Point, Georgia. It is the mission of the East Point Housing Authority to provide and encourage the development of quality affordable housing for individuals and families while promoting self-sufficiency and neighborhood revitalization.

About the National Affordable Housing Trust

National Affordable Housing Trust (NAHT) is a nonprofit low income housing tax credit (LIHTC) syndicator, specialized financial intermediary and development advisory firm. NAHT raises LIHTC equity from national and regional investors, and provides this equity to mission-driven developers and owners who provide quality affordable housing, with resident-focused solutions. NAHT is a Joint Venture of Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) and Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF). Visit NAHT at www.naht.org and follow @NAHTorg on X.

About UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is a health care and well-being company with a mission to help people live healthier lives and help make the health system work better for everyone through two distinct and complementary businesses. Optum delivers care aided by technology and data, empowering people, partners and providers with the guidance and tools they need to achieve better health. UnitedHealthcare offers a full range of health benefits, enabling affordable coverage, simplifying the health care experience, and delivering access to high-quality care. Visit UnitedHealth Group at www.unitedhealthgroup.com and follow UnitedHealth Group on LinkedIn.

View source version on businesswire.com:https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20240423780569/en/

CONTACT: Angela Richmond

UnitedHealth Group

404-309-2697

[email protected] McWhirt

The Vecino Group

417-425-5508

[email protected]

KEYWORD: UNITED STATES NORTH AMERICA GEORGIA

INDUSTRY KEYWORD: HEALTH OTHER CONSTRUCTION & PROPERTY RESIDENTIAL BUILDING & REAL ESTATE OTHER HEALTH CONSTRUCTION & PROPERTY GENERAL HEALTH URBAN PLANNING

SOURCE: UnitedHealth Group

Copyright Business Wire 2024.

PUB: 04/23/2024 12:00 PM/DISC: 04/23/2024 12:00 PM

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20240423780569/en

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