HOWE — Community members and elected officials of Howe and Grayson County gathered Wednesday to celebrate the Abbington Meadows apartments, the affordable housing options they provide residents and the economic benefits that have followed since their construction.


The celebration included a ribbon cutting, barbecue lunch, apartment tours and commentary from Howe’s mayor, the Grayson County commissioner and developer Rea Ventures Group, LLC. The 64-unit apartment complex first opened to renters in January and offers affordable income-based rent to roughly 60 percent of its residents.


Sean Brady, vice president of development for Rea Ventures Group, LLC, which spearheaded the apartment project, said that Abbington Meadows is able to provide a reasonably-priced and high-quality place to live in a city where housing options are few and far between.


“It gives some new options to folks,” Brady said. “There’s not a lot of options for rental housing here, … and we effectively have the ability to provide high-quality housing with all current amenities for the full spectrum of residents here.”


Brady said below-market rent is offered only to residents who make less than 60 percent of the area median income and is dependent upon both the number of residents living in a unit and the collective annual income of those occupants. He explained that the the apartment is able to offer reduced rent because of housing tax credits, which are awarded to eligible participants by the state and offset a percentage of their federal tax liability in exchange for the creation and upkeep of affordable rental housing.


Renters who qualify for the income-based rates pay $270 to $620 per month for a one-bedroom apartment, $320 to $739 per month for a two-bedroom apartment, and $374 to $859 per month for a three-bedroom apartment. Those who have higher incomes and do not qualify for the lower rate pay approximately $725 per month for a one-bedroom unit, $899 per month for a two-bedroom unit, and $999 per month for a three-bedroom unit.


Abbington Meadows resident Hailey Defrange said she is thankful for the affordable rent price offered to her by the apartments and the money she is able to save ultimately makes life more stable for her and her child.


“I personally like it because I’m a single mom,” Defrange said. “Having rent in my price range and it being affordable, makes it easier for me and a little less stressful. I mean I have my other bills that I have to pay, but because it’s affordable it makes it a little bit easier just to be an adult.”


Mayor Jeff Stanley said that development in Howe, specifically real estate, was stagnate before the apartment complex opened its doors to renters.


“Before Abbington Meadows, Howe was kind of stuck,” Stanley said. “We didn’t have just a whole lot going on, but since then, an explosion of building has happened.”


Howe’s Director of Economic Development Monte Walker echoed that sentiment and said he expects the construction of Abbington Meadows to encourage additional housing development in the city over the next several years.


“When other developers start seeing other projects like this, the dominoes start to fall,” Walker said. “We’ll see a lot of new homes over the next three years and we’ll look back and say that Abbington Meadows really kick-started that development.”


Representatives from Abbington Meadows said that all units at the complex are currently full. Rea Ventures Group, LLC opened a sister property, Abbington Junction, in Pottsboro Wednesday and expects to open Abbington Commons in Whitewright in August next year.