“Shepherd’s Cove is blessed due to the faithful involvement of the management staff, local churches, volunteers, and residents who want to live and work in a community with one another,” said Fred Bennett, developer of Shepherd’s Cove. The 72-unit development in Auburn targeted to families originally received more than $327,000 in Housing Credit allocations from AHFA in 1994. In 2012, Bennett’s team received more than $839,000 in Housing Credits from AHFA to help fund a renovation.
He said, “We had two goals. First, to renovate a nearly 20-year old property, but then even more importantly, to change the environment and the spirit of the community. The previous project had developed a poor reputation, and we wanted to turn that around. We chose to name the property Shepherd’s Cove to indicate our need for God’s help.” Shepherd’s Cove received more assistance with the help of a non-profit known as Deo Volente, which was organized in 2011 to assist residents of affordable housing like Shepherd’s Cove. Bennett said, “Deo Volente purchased the investor’s interest in the old property and participated in the sale and financing of Shepherd’s Cove. In addition, they use the proceeds of this involvement to provide services to residents of communities like Shepherd’s Cove, including providing more than $50,000 in scholarship funds through the Alabama Affordable Housing Association, sending kids to 4-H Camp, hosting a vacation bible school, and sponsoring other activities at various affordable housing communities.”
At Shepherd’s Cove, residents said they like not only the physical changes at the development, but also changes that have led to an increased sense of community. Creshonta Key said, “I like the look of my apartment and my balcony, and I like that we have a pool. Management is great. My kids get to go outside and play now. Before Miss Leigh came, they were balcony bound.” Miss Leigh is Leigh Duke, property manager at Shepherd’s Cove. She echoed Key’s statement and said, “I have a property full of great people. It has been nice to see the kids out playing and riding their bikes in the afternoons and on the weekends. Several tenants have expressed to me that they enjoy feeling a sense of safety for their children to be outdoors.”
It’s not just safety for their children that residents enjoy. Cherrica Jones said, “There are security cameras outside. I love that. I feel more comfortable, and they also provide some peace of mind about my car, since I’m on the backside and can’t see it from my apartment.” Besides the feeling of security, Jones also enjoys the development’s amenities, especially the clubhouse. “I actually just threw a birthday party here in the clubhouse. It turned out really nice, and we had a good time,” she said.
Good times abound at Shepherd’s Cove, and it’s usually because of relationships the development’s leadership has fostered with different community organizations. Parents with children can take advantage of a variety of activities hosted by the development. There is a bible study run by parishioners from Lakeview Baptist Church that features bible stories, music and games. Tutoring is available for all ages, coordinated by Cornerstone Methodist Church with volunteers from the church and students from Auburn University.
Children interested in music get to cultivate that interest in music lessons led by Spicer’s Music. Duke said, “Any child is welcome to come and learn an instrument. At the end of the course, a small recital is performed for the parents so they can see what their child has learned. The owner and his team have also given away instruments at the end of recitals to some children so they can continue playing and learning.”
In addition, Corporal Johnson with the local police department comes every other Monday and has a special mentoring session with the boys at the complex. Duke said, “They talk about issues facing the boys, how to step up and be the men of tomorrow, and just have overall rap sessions. He has also taken them on several outings.” When asked what activities her kids have participated in, Key said, “Saturdays are king of busy for us, so my kids have only done music lessons a few times. They have gone to tutoring and Bible study a lot. They really love all of the activities.”
Aside from the activities for their children, residents also talk about how much it means that they can live affordably at Shepherd’s Cove. Key said, “It’s affordable. I have five kids ages 10 months to 13 years, so I most definitely have to stick to a budget." Jones added, “It’s very affordable for something this gorgeous. I tell people all of the time they can stay somewhere that’s comfortable and nice, and affordable at the same time. It’s really an A+ for me. I want to be a homeowner one day, but Shepherd’s Cove is the closest I’ve come to feeling at home.”