The Harlen House Apartments were likely to be converted to a market-rate property before
Fairstead arrived to secure a continuation of its Section 8 status, thus ensuring residents
of at least 40 more years of affordable living. The acquisition had the added advantage of
ensuring better living quarters for everyone as well.
The fully renovated apartments — the work of which was accomplished with residents
in place — are now furnished with energy-efficient appliances and lighting. Temperature
sensors have been installed, and Harlen is a part of Fairstead’s proactive water- and boiler monitoring
programs. These sustainability-focused, property-wide improvements have
resulted in significant energy savings all around — about a 25% reduction in gas costs,
40% in water, and 13% in electricity. In addition, lobbies and hallways were refreshed, and
UFAS-accessibility upgrades and renovations were made to the community rooms, laundry,
resident lounge, and rideshare lobby. Security systems were enhanced as well.
Fairstead has also taken over day-to-day, on-the-ground oversight at Harlen. Such onsite
control is crucial to establishing and maintaining a higher-than-expected standard of
property upkeep, as well as new paradigms for transparency and communication. Shortly
after Fairstead begins managing a community, for example, its representatives (on-site and
off) meet with residents to set new expectations.
Open lines of communication are necessary for other reasons. As a general rule, Fairstead’s
in-house social services team aims to establish programs tailored to residents’ particular
wants, and that requires both needs assessment and program feedback. More often
than not these events and services involve areas crucial to personal growth and success,
including education, employment assistance, food insecurity, and access to relevant
government assistance programs, and health and wellness (a recent vaccination clinic popup
was a particular success).