The non-profit organization Upper Valley MEND (UV MEND) has made a significant increase to its affordable housing program, with the purchase of 31 rental apartments within the city of Leavenworth.

The acquisition is part of UV MEND's $6.8 million Solid Foundations Campaign, which is a community-wide initiative aimed at providing affordable workforce housing in the region.

"We've had it in our strategic plan that we wanted to add some new units to our housing program," said UV MEND executive director, Kaylin Bettinger. "But we never imagined that we could add thirty-one all at once. That's a huge number of units given the size of our program. So to be able to that so efficiently all at once was really incredible."

The 31 dwellings were purchased by UV MEND from a prominent family in the Upper Valley, the Marsons, who approached the not-for-profit about acquiring them so they could remain affordable in perpetuity.

"They (Marsons) basically reached out to Upper Valley MEND and offered us a really good price and a long lead time so we could get grant funding and hold a community fundraising campaign to be able to keep these units and be able to make sure they remain affordable forever."

Bettinger says adding the units to UV MEND's existing portfolio of affordable properties couldn't have happened at a more critical juncture.

"Everyone in Leavenworth knows the horror stories about your house getting sold and the rent doubling or going up even more than that. So it's just really exciting for all of us to be able to have a way to positively impact affordable housing because it's something that is so needed and it doesn't always feel like there's a tangible way to help with the situation."

UV MEND has already closed on 28 of the units and plans to finalize the purchase of the remaining three by the end of the month.

The non-profit's purchase from the Marson family also included a parcel of land where it plans to build three more affordable housing units in the coming years.

The agreement to acquire the units has been in the works for nearly two years and UV MEND's Solid Foundations Campaign, which launched in 2023, has raised over $5.4 million to date in gifts and pledges.

The 31-unit acquisition complements 20 units that are already a part of UV MEND's affordable housing program.

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