The road to Shepherd’s Crossing wasn’t always smooth.
When it was proposed, the affordable-housing community in Hampden Township drew fire from nearby residents. They asked whether the lot on busy Lamb’s Gap Road was an appropriate location for a 35-unit complex that would be home to many children. They wondered what the property would look like. They questioned whether it was needed.
Michael J. Kearney, president and CEO of Monarch Development Group LLC, harbored no doubts then and has no doubts now.
“The need for affordable workforce housing is evidenced by the response that we have had,” Kearney told an audience of developers, community officials, supporters and residents during a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week at the newly opened $9.2 million complex.
The 35 units have drawn interest from more than 200 applicants, Kearney said, adding that Shepherd’s Crossing is expected to be at full occupancy before the end of this month.
“There is a real need for it, and it’s evident on how quickly this is filling up,” he said.
Lower Allen Township-based Monarch partnered with Carlisle-based Cumberland Perry Housing Initiatives Inc. on the project.
Officials said the development was made possible through use of federal low-income housing tax credits awarded by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, a partnership with Fulton Bank, and county financing via the Cumberland County Housing and Redevelopment Authorities.
The need Kearney and others see is driven by Cumberland County’s many job opportunities — notably in the warehousing and logistics sectors, but also in retail and customer service.
Indeed, Hampden Township has been at the heart of the county’s commercial and residential development, with its infrastructure and the strong reputation of the Cumberland Valley School District making it a highly desirable locale.
The township grew 2.5 percent between the 2006-10 and 2009-13 U.S. Census population estimates, and 4.7 percent between the 2010 Census and July 1, 2014, when its population was estimated at 28,940. It’s expected to grow by 6,749 people, or 24.1 percent, through 2040, a Center for Rural Pennsylvania report states.