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Supportive Housing Meets Sustainability at Rethke Terrace Apartments

According to the United Nations, sustainability is defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sustainability has always been important, but in the twenty-first century, the environment is at a crucial turning point. Each individual’s actions have an effect, for better or worse, on our earth’s environmental well-being. One way to improve our ecological footprint is to ensure that the actions we take are as green as possible, which includes the way we build future housing developments. Rethke Terrace Apartments in Madison is a great example of a green development that strives for a cleaner future.

The owner and developer of Rethke Terrace Apartments is Chicago-based Heartland Housing. Not only was Rethke Terrace designed to better care for the environment, but it opened its doors in June 2016 as Madison’s first permanent supportive housing development in an effort to assist Madison’s homeless population. This development is supported by the city’s supportive housing initiative known as Housing First, a homeless assistance program that prioritizes providing permanent housing to people experiencing homelessness and connects them to the services they need to live independently.

All 60 units at Rethke Terrace are studio apartments for individuals aged 18 and older who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Additionally, 25 of the 60 units are reserved for veterans. The four-story building also houses offices for three full-time service providers – an alcohol and drug counselor, licensed clinician, and case manager as well as a library, computer lab, community room, and fitness center.

Many people were involved in the innovative design and sustainable operations of Rethke Terrace. Contractor McGann Construction and Architect Enberg Andersen worked together to incorporate features such as air source heat pumps; low-flow water fixtures, a rain screen, and rain garden for stormwater in an effort to conserve water; in addition to fruit trees, raised garden beds, and an urban chicken coop. The garden coincides with a community teaching kitchen where residents can learn how to grow food as well as how to cook with it to make healthy meals.

WHEDA allocated $540,000 in Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs) to cover 9% of the total financing for this project. Other funding sources included $1.45 million from the City of Madison, $950,000 from Dane County, project-based Housing Choice Vouchers, Federal Home Loan Bank AHP, and The Home Depot Foundation.

Rethke Terrace is Heartland Housing’s greenest development. It was recognized as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum Certified, a Certified Passive House and is the first PHIUS+ certified multifamily project in the Midwest. This project stands as a model for best practice standards in energy efficient multifamily complexes.

On set-aside units, WHEDA gets that...it speaks volumes for WHEDA's understanding of the need in Wisconsin. It's a pleasure to work with them.
-Michael Goldberg, Executive Director of Heartland Housing and Vice President of Heartland Alliance

By combining affordable housing with community-focused supportive services and sustainability, WHEDA and Heartland Housing are helping to change lives and build strong neighborhoods one development at a time.