Somerset Development Co., a mission-driven for-profit specializing in the revitalization of urban communities, has a strong record of forming partnerships to help serve its residents.
At its mixed-income and affordable properties in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, it leverages these partnerships to enhance its Resident Resources program, with on-site managers developing and implementing services and programming for more than 2,500 low-income residents.
The program began in January 2002, and Somerset internally subsidizes it in underserved communities by contributing between 15% and 40% of the net cash flow from each property to “fund quality programs and assure sustainability,” according to the developer.
To date, Somerset has dedicated over $5.68 million to the program. The on-site programs are overseen by the developer’s director of Resident Resources, whose salary and overhead are paid by Somerset. On-site programming and staff are covered by the developer’s contributions.
Programming and services are tailored to the needs of the residents at each community based on tenant council feedback and have included referral assistance, after-school and summer youth programs, educational field trips, computer training, nutrition classes, job training and assistance, and scholarships. Community gardens have been created at each affordable housing property to provide educational opportunities for children and adults.
Over the years, the developer has formed long-term relationships with local nonprofits and other institutions to better serve its residents. Partners include the Dance Institute of Washington, where approximately 50 students have been trained; DC Central Kitchen, which contributes healthy fresh meals to Somerset’s after-school programs and has provided culinary arts training for residents; and Urban Alliance, which helps provide work experience.