Shalom Apartments gets energy-friendly makeover

News & Advance LogoAlicia Petska | Posted: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 ♦

The Lynchburg Covenant Fellowship, a nonprofit housing group, has launched a project that will create better and less costly living quarters for 46 low-income tenants.

James Vaught

James Vaught finishes rewiring a bedroom at Shalom Apartments in Lynchburg, Va., January 7, 2013. (Photo by Parker Michels-Boyce / The News & Advance)

The organization is doing a $3.5 million head-­to­-toe renovation of Shalom Apartments on Federal Street property it’s owned for more than four decades. The undertaking is part of a larger multi-­property renovation plan the Lynchburg Covenant Fellowship has been pursuing.

In 2011, it did a similar overhaul of Lynchburg High Apartments, a 70-­unit complex. The project includes energy-­efficiency upgrades. When those upgrades were in the Lynchburg High Apartments, electric bills for tenants have dropped by between 19 and 57 percent, according to the agency.

“It can be just a 180­-degree improvement,” said Connie Snavely, associate director of Lynchburg Covenant Fellowship. The earth-­friendly upgrades range from using energy-­efficient appliances and heating systems to replacing old drafty windows.

At Shalom Apartments, baseboard heating systems will be discarded in favor of modern central heating and air, Snavely said. “Baseboard heat is not energy-­efficient, especially when the heater is right under a window that is already leaky,” Snavely said. “We’re really excited about this project. … Our goal is to provide the best affordable housing we can, and in order to do that, we needed these renovations.” The project is set to be complete by June 30.

Shalom Apartments

Shalom Apartments is undergoing major upgrades and renovations in Lynchburg, Va., January 7, 2014. (Photo by Parker Michels-Boyce / The News & Advance)

Five apartments will be converted to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Previously, Shalom Apartments had no ADA compliant units.

The renovation is funded primarily by low­-income housing tax credits. Lynchburg Covenant Fellowship also will take out a loan through the Virginia Housing Development Authority to cover part of the cost. The fellowship next hopes to renovate the Frank Roane Apartments on Federal Street.

Sandra Davenport, a tenant at Lynchburg High Apartments, said her utility expenses have dropped substantially since the renovation. “Especially for this time of year,” she said. “Before, in January, I would be paying anywhere from $80 to $100 some dollars. But now, the last bill I received was for $60. “That’s very significant for me, because I’m on a fixed income.”

Davenport, 59, has lived at Lynchburg High for five years. She said the refurbishment made it “just a more pleasant place.” “When we had that cold weather (due to the polar vortex), I couldn’t feel any air coming in through the windows or doors or anything,” she said. “The new heating and air system is really amazing. I didn’t know how cold it was outside until someone told me.”

The renovation of this 46-­unit housing development includes new roofing, flooring, plumbing, wiring, fixtures, and windows. The development serves tenants who are classified as low to extremely low income by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

For more information, contact Lynchburg Covenant Fellowship at (434) 847-­9059 or lcf@lcfhousing.org.