Affordable Housing Headlines - October 2017
Claremont Boards Gives OK to Renovation Plan
The city’s Planning Board unanimously approved a site plan and conditional use permit on Monday night for a complete overhaul of the Goddard Block on Pleasant Street, where New Hampton, N.H.-based New England Family Housing is planning 36 apartments. The approval comes with a condition that all required parking — a minimum of one space per unit — is secured before a certificate of occupancy is issued. “I can live with that. It will give me ample time to find an overall solution to the parking,” New England Family Housing CEO Kevin Lacasse told the board. The property includes 19 spaces, which means another 17 will need to be identified, with some of those potentially being city-owned. Previously, the Zoning Board of Adjustment approved a variance that reduced required parking, which had been 1.5 spaces per unit.
Another Voice: Affordable housing builds strong communities
There are few things more important to residents than access to quality, affordable housing. When low- and middle-income families can afford their homes, it provides financial relief for other essentials. Housing is one of the foundations for achieving positive growth across our communities. Buffalo, like the rest of the state, is facing an urgent housing crisis. Half of all renters spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent. But municipalities across New York are taking action through investment, public-private partnerships and commitments from various stakeholders. The City of Buffalo’s approach offers important lessons for others who are focused on this crisis. That success is part of the reason why the New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH) is in Buffalo this week to highlight ongoing efforts and recently completed developments at its annual upstate conference.
Advocates, developers worry about funding for affordable housing amid federal tax reform
When Mulberry at Park Apartments, an affordable housing development in downtown Baltimore, opened its waiting list, Sherria Lovelace was among the first in line. Looking to downsize from her too-big North Baltimore house to an apartment, Lovelace, 35, was having a hard time finding anything within her $1,000 a month budget. “For a two-bedroom that’s virtually impossible,” she said, “unless you want to live in a block of vacants.” Developers, housing advocates and renters are concerned about the future of projects such as Mulberry at Park, which are largely funded by a federal tax credit program at risk if Republicans succeed in reducing the corporate tax rate. The Low Income Housing Tax Credit, the federal government’s primary vehicle for encouraging private investment in affordable housing, is supported by banks and investors who buy the credits from developers to offset their tax burden. President Trump has proposed reducing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent, while Republicans have floated more modest cuts.
Cook Hospital to be repurposed for low-income family housing
With the renovations at Miller Junior High School scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, sights are slowly shifting to a new renovation projected at the old Cook Hospital, with plans to turn the building in to low-income housing for 20 families. The building, which has housed both Cook Hospital and the Marion County Board of Education offices in the past century, has sat empty for several years, making it a great location for the housing project, a joint effort between the BOE, and the Fairmont/Morgantown Housing Authority and the Sadd brothers, both contractors. “We have a strong need for affordable housing in Fairmont,” Steve Sadd said. “(Cook Hospital) is a good location, and it’s a solid building… The market study indicated that there was a need for more family housing. There’s a lot of people out there who need quality housing. Unfortunately, that’s the case, that there are more and more of these folks who need to be served.”
Tax credit extensions included in $1.7B housing bond
A $1.7 billion long-term spending bill for housing in Massachusetts is expected to be released on Wednesday by the Housing Committee, and will likely include extensions of a number of tax credit programs for low-income housing and brownfield redevelopment. The Housing Committee, co-chaired by Rep. Kevin Honan of Boston and Sen. Joseph Boncore of Winthrop, plan to open a poll on the bill Tuesday afternoon and give members of the committee until 5 p.m. on Wednesday to decide whether to endorse the proposal. "We're going to try to move that forward now. It's a very significant and important bill in the area of production and preservation. It's much needed legislation and it's our hope to move it very soon," Honan told the News Service after a hearing of his committee. The bill's bottom line will more closely resemble the proposal filed at the start of the session by Honan and Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, which had $400 million for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, $55 million for community-based housing for people with disabilities, $600 million to modernize and rehabilitate public housing, and $100 million for the Housing Innovations Fund.
Affordable apartments planned for vacant Southbridge mill (Massachusetts)
A developer, only weeks after unveiling a $20 million makeover of the lobby of the Mercantile Center in Worcester, revealed a pair of ambitious projects in the former American Optical campus that he owns. Charles “Chip” Norton, Jr., president of Franklin Realty Advisors, wants to convert a vacant mill building at 5-15 Case St. in the Southbridge Innovation Center into 48 “affordable” apartments. Mr. Norton also announced a six-year contract to transform a traditional, off-line electric power plant into a state-of-the-art cogeneration facility. Franklin Realty Advisors’ contract is with Trane Commercial Systems. A division of Ingersoll Rand, Trane will design, build, maintain and guarantee resultant energy savings. Construction is expected to begin this month with a target completion date of December. The cogeneration facility will deliver more than one megawatt of power upon completion, providing more than 70 percent of the project’s electrical needs and the majority of its thermal requirements. Mr. Norton said the undertaking represents an investment of $5.6 million, supported partly by a $1.1 million rebate from National Grid with the remaining financing underwritten and funded by Middlesex Savings Bank and Massachusetts Development.
Baltimore Development Corp. seeks developers for South Gay Street properties
Baltimore Development Corp. is seeking developers for a trio of buildings near Power Plant Live that were built at the turn of the century. The contiguous properties, located at 17, 19, and 23 S. Gay S., encompass a total of 13,924 square feet. The request for proposals also includes a 2,557-square-foot parking lot at 10 S. Frederick Street, behind 17 S. Gay St. The buildings at 17 and 23 S. Gay St. are five stories; 19 S. Gay St. is four stories. All three have basements and are vacant. A project would be eligible for several incentives: the 10-year High Performance Tax Credit for market-rate rental housing, Enterprise Zone tax credits, Historical and Architectural Preservation Tax Credit and the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program, according to BDC.
New Haven Valley Street project expected to gain approval (Connecticut)
The Housing Authority of New Haven is turning its attention to the four-decade-old apartment complex along Valley Street as it continues the major upgrading of its properties. The 10 buildings containing 40 two-story townhomes, built in 1974, will be demolished and replaced with 40 new units spread among nine buildings. Residents of the replacement housing will also have a community building on the site. The new units on the 3.2-acre site will closely mirror the current mix of two- to five-bedroom units, according to the authority. The big change will be accommodation for persons with disabilities.
Midwest / Central
Townhouse, loft apartments proposed south of downtown
The company that developed the Lofts at Roberts is seeking zoning variances for construction of two multi-family apartment projects on Walnut Street south of downtown. Miller-Valentine, a nationally ranked developer of affordable housing, is proposing a 12-unit, two-story townhouse apartment building and a 22-unit, three-story loft apartment building on either side of Walnut six blocks south of the downtown roundabout. The abandoned Labor Center building would be demolished for the loft apartments on the west side of Walnut. The site of the townhouse apartments is vacant lots on the east side of Walnut. The address is in the 1100 block, just south of Uggly's Bar & Grill. The company intends to partner with the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority on the projects. IHCDA partners with developers, lenders, investors, and non-profit organizations that use the authority's financing to serve low- and moderate-income Hoosiers. IHCDA leverages government and private funds to invest in "financially sound, well-designed projects" that "help families become more stable, put down roots, and climb the economic ladder. In turn, communities grow and prosper, broadening their tax base, creating new jobs, and maximizing local resources."
Mark Bennett: Possibilities for the old Y
When outside eyes see a future for vacant historic Terre Haute buildings, that’s an encouraging prospect. It means, at the very least, that a survivor of the city’s past holds value for future generations of residents. The ongoing conversion by Indianapolis’ Core Redevelopment of the 1931-era American Can Co. building into the RiverFront Lofts apartment complex on the east bank of the Wabash River is a highly visible example. That angular, old factory — where American once manufactured tin cans, Pillsbury made foods and ICON stored materials — will end 18 years of vacancy and open next summer as apartments overlooking the Wabash. Early signs of a similar new life have emerged for the former YMCA building on the corner of Sixth and Walnut streets downtown. The prospect comes four months after that structure, built in 1939, was placed on Indiana Landmarks’ 10 Most Endangered Landmarks list for 2017. That listing drew the attention of The Commonwealth Companies, a Wisconsin-based developer. As a result, the old Y’s ownership group, 200 South Sixth Street LLC, has submitted a special-use application to the Terre Haute Board of Zoning Appeals for the property.
Oklahoma housing finance director is leaving the building
When the moment was right to retire from a career promoting affordable housing, Dennis Shockley said he just knew it. “I'm about to turn 70, and that's a nice round number,” he said with a chuckle. “You just never know. I've got to have some time. I don't want them carrying me out of the office.” Shockley will step down as the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency's executive director on Oct. 2, ending a 20-year term that has seen the agency expand both in services and the populations it serves. Deborah Jenkins, director of the agency's Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance program, will succeed him. Shockley said retirement will mean a little more travel with his wife, Janet, more attention on his duties with groups like the Metropolitan Library Commission and more time at the Oklahoma City Gun Club. “I might try to lower my golf handicap, as well,” he said. Shockley came to the agency in May 1997, after two years with the Kansas Insurance Department. Before that, he'd helped form the Kansas state housing division and managed the mortgage revenue bond program for the city of Kansas City, Kansas. “I heard about this job opening, and I wanted to get back into housing,” he said.
Developer may bring new rental housing to Coalville
A developer may be building six new housing units in Coalville, the Webster County Board of Supervisors said Tuesday. Michael Pearson has proposed three single-family units and three bi-attached single family units to be built on 240th Street in Coalville, Supervisor Mark Campbell said. Pearson is planning to apply for Iowa Workforce Housing Tax Credits, which require a local match, Campbell said. Webster County will consider providing tax abatement on the properties to fulfill that local match requirement. Pearson is also one of the developers planning to put up single-family houses on the Theiss Farm property in Fort Dodge. “I suggest we do the minimum of $1,000 per unit in the form of a tax rebate,” Campbell said. “After the taxes are paid, we would refund him $1,000 per unit one time.” This is still in the planning stages. To become official the supervisors would have to pass a resolution. They held a workshop Tuesday morning to talk about what that resolution needs to look like. The Iowa tax credit is meant to spur new housing for people moving to the area, Supervisor Merrill Leffler said, adding that it applies predominantly to rental property.
Bozeman celebrates new affordable housing development
Connor Lowe was studying abroad in Japan when he began his search for housing he could afford for his return to Bozeman. The Montana State University student saw an ad for Larkspur Commons, a new, 136-unit affordable housing complex off Oak Street. “I called from Skype and told them I’d send the deposit from Japan,” Lowe said Wednesday as he stood on the grounds near his new apartment. “There were only two units left.” Wednesday morning, Bozeman residents, developers, city staff and Gov. Steve Bullock met on one of the lawns between the eight, three-story buildings that makeup the Larkspur to celebrate its completion. Construction on the project began in December 2015. The Larkspur is subsidized by a $200,000 grant from Bozeman’s affordable housing fund. That funding is paired with federal tax credits through the state that allow developers to raise money for affordable housing projects. The financing structure for the $21 million development means the Larkspur is locked into 46 years of offering below-market retail rates.
Jasperlite project to again seek MSHDA funding (Michigan)
The Ishpeming City Council readopted the resolution to support the Jasperlite Senior Housing Project. This renewal comes after the project was not awarded the low income housing tax credit to Michigan State Housing Development Authority on April 3. After meeting with MSHDA several times and expanding their investment narrative in the City of Ishpeming, Jasperlite is reapplying for MSHDA funds on October 2nd. With Wednesday’s approval from the city council, Jasperlite feels they are in a more competitive position in their senior housing plans for Ishpeming. “It’s a great thing for this community to have more senior housing. We know the demographic of our society are aging, but Jasperlite is a good place for people to live and I hope the state will give it its dues,” Ishpeming City Manager Mark Slown said.
Workforce housing project breaks ground (Minnesota)
For the first time in six years, construction has kicked off on a new apartment complex in Mankato reserved for lower-middle-class workers. Dublin Crossing, when it opens next summer, will offer 50 units of high-quality rental housing for tenants earning roughly $16 an hour or less — $22.50 an hour for a four-person family. Supported by federal tax credits and financial assistance from the city of Mankato and Blue Earth County, the complex is the first new workforce housing since the 60-unit Sibley Park Apartments was constructed in 2011-2012 on Sibley Parkway.
Boise to break ground on 'housing first' development for chronically homeless
Community leaders will break ground Wednesday on a housing development designed to aid the chronically homeless. The 41-unit building, called New Path Community Housing, is set to open in the fall of 2018 at 2200 W. Fairview Ave. in Boise. It will be the first single-site, permanent supportive housing development in Idaho, according to the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, which has approved almost $6 million in tax credits for the project. New Path is based on the Housing First model, which prioritizes moving chronically homeless individuals into permanent housing and then providing services such as medical and mental health care, substance abuse treatment, case management, life skills education, and financial and job counseling. The development will have 40 one-bedroom apartments, a unit for management, and office and meeting space.
Seniors Sue Houston Housing Authority Over Post-Harvey Evictions
After the Houston Housing Authority asked 188 seniors living at 2100 Memorial to vacate their apartments on short notice, the residents have now sued the agency and the property owner, asking a judge to rule that they be allowed to remain in their homes while repairs are done. Tory Gunsolley, executive director of the HHA and vice president of V.J. Memorial Corp, which owns the property, issued notices to all residents last week, saying that they and their belongings would need to be out of the apartments in five days because the building had become "totally unusable for residential purposes due to health and safety reasons. "To the residents, who had been living in their un-flooded apartments with power and running water since Harvey, the notice came as a shock. The basement and the first floor, where nobody lives, had flooded, necessitating building repairs — but not to the point that their homes seemed totally useless, they said. HHA has said that the electrical and fire-control systems were harmed, as well as the water system — damages that "pose a safety threat to residents," particularly a fire hazard.
NWA editorial: A housing hubbub
Ever since the Fayetteville Housing Authority agreed in March to sell its Willow Heights public housing complex for $1.25 million to a developer, the conversation about whether it's the right move has never quite seemed broad enough. How, where and when public housing is delivered in Fayetteville seems, to us at least, like a subject worthy of a comprehensive community discussion. Selling off the five-acre site that is home to about 100 residents may make all the sense in the world, but the Housing Authority's conclusion has left plenty of people worried about the residents and about the resulting plan to expand Morgan Manor, a separate public housing property in a different part of town. The Housing Authority Board might be forgiven for not recognizing the ripples their decision would send across the community. Let's be honest: Most of the time, public housing needs don't get much attention beyond this organization. The day to day effort to operate public housing isn't very exciting, but is vital work. Selling Willow Heights and expanding Morgan Manor is not a typical decision. It has repercussions for the greater community, which does have an interest. The controversial action has simmered along for months now, with questions about whether it's the right deal for public housing residents and about whether it's wise to further consolidate public housing in one location. These are fair questions, ones the Housing Authority Board members appear to have answered to their own satisfaction. But the rest of the community has been a little slow to catch up, and even if the board has done its due diligence, it's time for a robust, broad-based discussion about the future of Willow Heights and, perhaps, the broader question of public housing in the city.
Charlotte City Council approves $20.8M for affordable housing projects
Charlotte City Council took a big step toward completing its 5,000-unit affordable housing goal on Monday night, approving bond money that will help build 769 apartments. The council voted unanimously to approve $20.8 million from the city's Housing Trust Fund to help pay for five new affordable housing developments in Charlotte. The projects are 4% tax credit housing development funding requests made earlier this year and approved by the city's Housing & Neighborhood Development Committee this summer.
One affordable housing project gets new hope. Another is in jeopardy (Florida)
Miami-based developer Housing Trust Group was one of a very few success stories in Bradenton in receiving tax credits to build an affordable housing project, but being awarded credits doesn’t always translate into construction. HTG was awarded the credits in April for a 90-unit project on 3.5 acres of vacant land on what the city deems to be a key piece of gateway property on the corner of Sixth Avenue East and Ninth Street East. As design went forward, the number of units were scaled back, but the developer is telling the city they need that number of units to make the project viable. Tax credits are guaranteed through the Florida Housing Finance Corp. and investors then purchase those credits for tax deductions. HGT proposes a plan to include the redevelopment of the 36-unit, 1950s-era Love Apartments on Sixth Street Court East as a Phase II addition to their approved Addison project.
Seniors housing project planned in Mooresville, NC
With the recently completed Comprehensive Housing Strategy revealing that Mooresville citizens were eager for affordable senior housing, the town announced Monday that a 66-unit development aimed at people age 55 and older is planned in the Cascade community. The apartments, called Cascade Gardens, will be located on Williams Street off N.C. 115, north of downtown. Terrell Blackmon, the town’s Community & Economic Development manager, presented the project’s plans during the Mooresville Board of Commissioners’ mid-month meeting. Low Income Housing Tax Credits of about $750,000 from the state have been awarded to the Wesley Community Development Corporation, which will develop the project on town-owned land. “This will be the first signature development breaking ground as a result of the housing strategy,” said Blackmon. “We’re very excited about it, and construction should start in early 2018.” No other details of the senior housing project were available, and Blackmon said he would come back to the board with more information as the project develops.
Graham, NC $15.6 million Oneida Mill Lofts opens
Graham’s $15.6 million Oneida Mill Lofts renovation is complete, and low-income apartment hunters will be pleased with the prices. Tom Anderson, managing director of Cohen-Esrey Development Group, led a grand opening ceremony for the 133-unit complex at 219 W. Harden St., Graham, on Tuesday, Sept. 19. N.C. Reps. Steve Ross and Dennis Riddell, N.C. Sen. Rick Gunn and U.S. Rep. Mark Walker all touted the project’s positive impact. The renovation was funded by a combination of workforce housing credits, historic credits and mill credits — all sold to corporate investors to raise money — and tax exempt bonds through Citigroup. In addition, the lofts operate under the Section 42 Tax Credit Affordable Housing program, which is why rent for a one-bedroom apartment is only $526, compared to the county average of around $830.
Apartments starting at $400 per month coming to Denver's RiNo neighborhood
One of Denver’s fast-growing neighborhoods is going to get some much-needed affordable housing. The Urban Land Conservancy is teaming up with developer Medici Consulting Group to build the 65-unit Walnut Street Lofts next to the 38th and Blake transit station. The Denver Post reported the apartments will be rented out to tenants who make 30 to 60 percent of the metro area’s median income, with rents starting at $400 per month for a one-bedroom and $1,200 for a three-bedroom unit. Under the agreement, ULC will sell the development rights to Medici but will retain ownership of the land under a 99-year ground lease. ULC purchased the property in 2011 and earlier this month, the organization received a 9-percent tax credit from the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority. ULC expects construction to begin on the Walnut Street Lofts in late 2018. The total project cost is estimated at $17 million.
Liberty Lane housing project for veterans to move forward
Developers of a controversial affordable housing project for veterans have received the green light they’ve been waiting for. On Tuesday, Sept. 20, the Redlands City Council narrowly approved the 80-unit Liberty Lane affordable apartment complex on the southwest corner of Lugonia Avenue and Texas Street. The project is intended to assist veterans with mental illness diagnoses and their families, individuals with special needs and low-income families. “If this type of facility is Redlands’ contribution to helping solve a much bigger problem, then it would be wrong of me not to support it,” Mayor Paul Foster said Tuesday. He was joined by Councilmen Paul Barich and Jon Harrison in supporting the project while council members Pat Gilbreath and Eddie Tejeda voted against it. The council voted after hearing from the project’s developers, veterans and county officials in support of the project. They also heard from numerous residents concerned about the project’s potential impact on their neighborhood. The project has received support from numerous political and government officials, including San Bernardino County Supervisor James Ramos and District Attorney Mike Ramos who addressed the council Tuesday.
Boston Capital Invests in Utah Housing Development
The company said it investing $11.5 million in low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) equity to help finance the development of North Temple Flats. The general partner is Summit Housing Group, based in Missoula, Mont. North Temple Flats will include 107 one-bedroom/one-bath units and 61 two-bedroom/two-bath units in three four-story buildings. Unit amenities will include central air conditioning, washers and dryers, dishwashers, and patios or balconies. The apartment community will offer a community room with a kitchen, a computer room, a BBQ area with seating, storage lockers, and 76 covered parking spaces.
Beacon Breaks Ground (California)
The city, in partnership with the Long Beach Community Investment Company and Century Housing Corporation, recently celebrated the groundbreaking of a new, affordable development for seniors and veterans. The Beacon is a new, two-building development with 160-units of supportive housing expected to be complete in late 2019, according to city officials. It’s the final phase of a site development that includes the adjacent 161-unit Long Beach Senior Arts Colony and the 39-unit Annex. Located at 1235 Long Beach Blvd., the development includes the seven-story Beacon Pointe with 120 units reserved for low-income seniors and the five-story Beacon Place with 38 units for low-income or homeless veterans. In January 2017, the Long Beach Community Investment Company approved more than $12 million in funding for the development, according to a release from the city. Money also came from a loan from the Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Program through CalVet and the California Department of Housing and Community Development; Affordable Housing Program loans through the Federal Home Loan Bank; a grant from the Home Depot Foundation; a loan from the California Community Reinvestment Corporation; an equity investment by Wells Fargo Bank through the allocation of tax credits from the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee; and construction financing from Wells Fargo Bank.
Colorado Awards $12.8 Million in Second Round of LIHTCs
Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) has reserved $12.8 million in federal low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs) for its second and final allocation of 2017. The competitive 9% LIHTCs will support the new construction or preservation of 633 affordable rental units for families, seniors, and the formerly homeless. Demand for the housing tax credits outweighed supply this round, with CHFA receiving 28 applications requesting over $30 million.
Developers Break Ground on Ambitious Denver Project
Construction has begun on a unique 130-unit development that brings together affordable housing for families, permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless individuals, and a shelter for women and transgender individuals in Denver. Arroyo Village is a joint development by nonprofit organizations Rocky Mountain Communities and The Delores Project, which combined two of their existing sites to make room for their ambitious new project. By joining forces, they seek to maximize the site by building a development that will reach a variety of underserved residents in Denver. “We came up with the name Arroyo Village because we do have these distinct communities,” says Richard Taft, president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Communities, a 26-year-old organization that owns more than 1,100 affordable homes statewide.