Fairfield Homes Inc.
For decades, Fairfield Homes Inc. (Fairfield) has been supporting Ohio’s affordable housing through property management, development and construction. “There’s a desperate need in this area for more affordable housing,” reveals Jennifer Gorsuch Walters, president of Fairfield. The family-owned and -operated business has been meeting the community’s needs since 1947 when Jennifer’s grandfather, Frank L. Gorsuch, founded Fairfield.
Before officially joining Fairfield, Jennifer and her husband ran a specialty coffee supply shop. “I was always involved in the family business to a certain extent because my father and I had a very close relationship, but I didn’t take on an active role until about 2007,” recalls Jennifer. “I started in a lower-level position and you could say I just fell in love with it and I’ve been here ever since.”
All Under One Roof
The company started out as a developer in the single-family home and subdivision market and eventually ventured into commercial construction, historic restorations and multifamily housing. In 1957 Gorsuch Management, a division of Fairfield, was formed for the purpose of managing single-family rental properties. Since then, Gorsuch Management has expanded, providing management services for affordable multifamily housing, senior housing and conventional multifamily housing.
“With our experience, we’re able to meet the challenges this market presents,” shares Jennifer. “We have the knowledge of state and federal programs and how to work with these organizations effectively.”
Fairfield’s management team utilizes its comprehensive knowledge of regulations imposed by HUD, Rural Development, Assisted Housing Services Corporation, the Ohio Housing Finance Agency and Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing.
“Under one roof we are able to perform development, construction and property management and work with low-income tax credit programs and other affordable housing organizations,” adds Jennifer. Fairfield develops and builds everything from warehouses to multiple-story senior and family apartment communities, office buildings, banks, nursing homes, recreation facilities, veterinary clinics, medical facilities, retail shops, law offices, hospitals and historical renovations.
Fairfield remains based in Lancaster, Ohio, but the company now employs over 200 individuals. “We have many long-term employees that have helped us grow,” reveals Jennifer. “It’s all part of the family-oriented culture around here.”
The Supportive Housing Backbone
Jennifer admits Fairfield subcontracts nearly all trades and services, but says it has helped make the company more effective. “We’ve found we have greater control over price this way,” she says. “We currently own or manage about 95 multifamily apartments, which equal 5,000 units within Ohio. We have a project manager and a superintendent on every job.”
While multifamily complexes are just a part of a day’s work for Fairfield, the company recently had an opportunity to work on a first of its kind project in Lancaster. “Pearl House is a very controversial project,” details Jennifer. “This permanent supportive housing will offer a place for recovery for families suffering from opiate and heroin addiction.”
Pearl House is modeled after the Jefferson Avenue Apartments in Columbus, Ohio, which have been an overall success for the area. However, when Fairfield broke ground on the planned 36-unit project, protestors attempted to put a stop to it.
“The zoning changed and development scaled back to 21 units,” says Jennifer. “When you step away from the emotional part, you realize it’s a good thing for the whole community. This project has been one of the highest scoring in the state in comparison to other supportive housing developments.”
In a smaller community in Nashport, Ohio, Fairfield transformed an existing section of housing, saving the area from foreclosure. “We rehabbed and totally transformed it,” says Jennifer. “We added six units for mental health patients, integrating funding that’s never been combined before from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and low-income tax credits.”
Jennifer admits the company’s niche market is not an easy business. “We have to constantly comply with industry and organizational changes through state and federal governments,” she explains. “We also have to keep costs closely in mind, because these projects are often on a tight budget.”
Despite daily challenges, Jennifer says Fairfield is on a path that leads to growth. “We’re constantly evolving and connecting in our industry,” she shares. “It’s about staying on top of what’s going on and meeting the needs for the communities we serve.”
Jennifer continues to do what she fell in love with six years ago, running her third-generation family business as the team at Fairfield Homes Inc. builds on 66 years of service.
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