Coming Home to Newport Village

For many in New Hampshire, spring brings a fresh start. For Toni, spring used to bring a drained bank account and a moving van. But this spring holds a different fate for Toni since The Caleb Group and New Hampshire Housing partnered to bring life to an aging affordable housing complex.

Toni worked as a town clerk and tax collector before she had to go on disability. She then began to raise her ten-year-old grandson, Lincoln, on her limited income. They found themselves stuck in a cycle of moving every spring. High heating and utility costs would drain her financial resources over the winter and make it difficult to afford rent, forcing her to search again for a cheaper apartment.

She had heard about Newport Village, an affordable housing complex for families, but described her first reaction as “leery.” Newport Village had a reputation as a place with fights, drug use, and theft. But the Caleb Group, a nonprofit, faith-inspired affordable housing organization that also offers resident resources and programming, had purchased the complex in 2010. The neighborhood’s character had already begun to shift thanks to their efforts.

“Okay, these people are real,” she said of her reaction after researching The Caleb Group. “They care about the people they rent to.”

She decided to give Newport Village a try and moved into an apartment in December 2012.

The Caleb Group began renovating the aging complex in June 2013 using Greener Homes funding from New Hampshire Housing. The goal of the Greener Homes program is to preserve aging affordable housing by funding energy efficiency improvements. Making these improvements stabilize costs for property owners while also improving their tenants’ living environments.

At Newport Village, new windows, doors, and kitchens were installed, and a new community room, computer learning center, and laundry area were built. A new playground was also installed.

“There was a big change in the kind of people who have moved in here,” Toni said. Today, children can be seen playing and riding their bikes outside while parents socialize and watch. Security cameras monitor the property. A Resident Service Coordinator from the Caleb Group works on site to help residents with everything from furthering their educations to understanding how to advocate for their children’s needs in school.

“Everybody’s kind of watching out for everybody,” Toni said. “Word has got to get out that it has changed here. People who want this kind of help will come if they know it’s here.”

A year after moving in, Toni is already benefiting from reduced utility costs, and the apartment complex that at first made her hesitate has become home.

“I’m happy here,” she said. “I feel safe and secure, and I can afford it.”

More information about Newport Village and the Caleb Group can be found here:

New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority is a self-supporting public benefit corporation. The Authority operates a number of rental and homeownership programs designed to assist low- and moderate-income persons with obtaining affordable housing.

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