This apartment unit is changing what people think of affordable housing

Seaside Harbor is the first affordable housing unit of its kind in Virginia Beach. (Southside Daily/courtesy of Samaritan House)
Seaside Harbor is the first affordable housing unit of its kind in Virginia Beach. (Southside Daily/courtesy of Samaritan House)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Seaside Harbor is a new housing unit in the ViBe District, serving multiple populations and changing what affordable housing can look like.

Seaside Harbor had its grand opening on April 22 — it’s on 509 18th St. in the ViBe Creative District.

The 76-unit apartment building replaced two aging 1960s-era complexes owned by Samaritan house and will serve as affordable housing for low-income families and families with disabilities.

“We want to show people that this is what affordable housing looks like,” said Steve Lawson, chairman of The Lawson Companies.

The Lawson Companies co-developed the apartment building with Samaritan House using Virginia Housing and Development Authority Special Initiative Pool funding to create a unique housing opportunity serving multiple purposes, Lawson said.

Families with developmental disabilities, families with accessibility needs and the workforce at the oceanfront are all eligible to live there.

“We have a mismatch of income and housing in this area,” Lawson said.

The incomes of those who are part of the workforce community in the ViBe District and the Resort area are not proportionate to the cost of housing so this new affordable housing unit is here to remedy that, he said.

“Not only did Seaside Harbor meet a need for Samaritan House, it filled a housing gap for individuals with disabilities in the community,” said Robin Gauthier, executive director of Samaritan House.

“The high cost of housing is the main barrier for people with disabilities to participate fully in community life,” said Lynne Seagle, executive director for Hope House Foundation.

Currently, Seaside Harbor is 100 percent leased with workforce from Virginia Beach and nine people with developmental disabilities who receive services through Hope House Foundation.

“At Lawson, we strive to positively impact the communities we serve and Seaside Harbor is an excellent example of this,” Lawson said. “We believe that this is a model that can be replicated in other areas of Virginia to demonstrate how effective partnerships can provide much needed affordable housing. We are very proud of the homes and opportunities we’ve created at Seaside Harbor.”

Lawson said the ViBe District has been nothing short of fantastic when working with them and Samaritan House, welcoming them into the community.

“Seaside Harbor is an incredible amenity to the oceanfront at large, and we are lucky that it landed in the ViBe District where many artists, young entrepreneurs and service industry staff can take advantage of a dynamic live-work neighborhood just blocks from the ocean,” said Kate Pittman, executive director at ViBe Creative District.

To learn more about Seaside Harbor, click here.

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