Affordable Housing Headlines - September 2017
Affordable Housing News & Views
Northeast / Mid Atlantic
An 85-unit affordable housing development planned for seniors and homeless veterans at 18-25 River Road was awarded a nine percent tax credit for investors by the state Housing Mortgage Finance Agency, said Bergen County United Way’s president. The tax credits are intended to help with the financing of the approximately $18 million affordable housing project, said Tom Toronto, BCUW president. Tax credits can typically provide 70 percent of the cost of an affordable housing project, he said. BCUW/Madeline, in partnership with PenWal Affordable Housing Development Corporation, hope to break ground in spring 2018, Toronto said. The Planning Board approved an increase in units from the originally proposed 65 in 2014 to 85 units in December 2016, according to Toronto.
Work on South Side 'Highline' at historic terminal gets boost from $15 million in New Markets Tax Credits (Pittsburgh)
A local developer has been awarded $15 million in new markets tax credits to help finance a major overhaul of a historic cargo warehouse on the South Side. Downtown-based McKnight Realty Partners is using the money to help convert vacant floors at the River Walk Corporate Centre into creative office space and to turn an asphalt street that runs through the complex to the Monongahela River into a public green space as part of a project it has dubbed the “Highline.” Completed in 1906, the massive historic terminal with its riverfront prominence at one time was considered the largest cargo warehouse between New York City and Chicago. It was built to accommodate street traffic, barges and trains, as many as five at one time. It is now an office complex measuring 868,000 square feet. McKnight is planning to convert 60,000-square-foot vacant floors into create office space, keeping historic elements like exposed brick and beams.
A joint venture between TIAA Investments and Enterprise Homes, a nonprofit affordable housing developer, ensured that more than 4,100 units in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia will remain affordable to low-income residents. Both firms invested a combined $50 million in a fund that Enterprise Homes formed to acquire the communities from The Shelter Group. Located throughout the Mid-Atlantic, the portfolio includes 43 properties. The investment aims to address the growing affordability challenges facing communities across the U.S. “Nearly 19 million low-income families in the U.S. are homeless or paying at least half of their monthly income on housing. TIAA Investments’ $50 million contribution shows a commitment to ending our country’s affordability challenges and improving the lives of hard-working Americans nationwide,” said Chris Herrmann, vice president of conventional equity at Enterprise Community Investment, in a prepared statement. The 4,153 apartments were originally financed through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, America’s main tool for creating and preserving affordable homes for low-income families, seniors, veterans and people with special needs. “This investment opportunity was particularly attractive given the properties were consistently of high quality, are located in high-demand markets and offer steady cash flows,” said Rekha Unnithan, director of impact investing at TIAA Investments.
Cherrytree Group, LLC, a tax credit advisory firm, has announced the funding of two historic preservation and rehabilitation projects in Massachusetts. Cherrytree formed the equity partnership and closed the state and federal tax credit equity financing for the highly visible developments, raising over $2 million in tax credit equity from individual investors. One of the funded projects is the adaptive re-use of the 100-year-old Plymouth Post Office Building in Southeastern Massachusetts. The building, which has also served as a courthouse, Federal office building, and houses a collection of retail stores, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1986. The other project receiving tax credit equity financing through the partnership is the renovation of a classic Greek Revival building in Gardner, MA. The 10,000-square-foot structure in the downtown district has been converted into 12 studio apartments providing supportive housing for individuals who have completed rehabilitation treatment programs, are in recovery, or are transitioning into independent living. Warren Kirshenbaum, president of Cherrytree Group, said these projects show the power of preservation in America’s small towns through the use of tax credits; which allow developers to reduce development costs to preserve historic structures, make use of renewable energy or clean up toxic land. At the same time, these partnerships allow individual investors to benefit by purchasing earned tax credits from developers, reducing the investor’s tax liabilities.
Mountco Construction has struck a $16.6 million purchase-and-repair deal with a local union to save Section 8 housing through what one company leader called a complex yet increasingly common funding and ownership structure. The Scarsdale developer is seeking to buy a controlling stake in Wallkill Apartments, LLC, a new holding company designed to preserve and rehabilitate a 75-unit affordable housing development in the Town of Wallkill. Mountco executive vice president John Madeo wants to use the same sort of deal, based on a mix of bonds and special tax credits, for which Sen. Bill Larkin, R-C-Cornwall-on-Hudson, honored the company with a 2015 community service award for fixing Burton Towers in Newburgh. The Wallkill development consists of three two-story buildings, located on 6.2 acres at 55, 75 and 88 Seniors Way owned by Wallkill Housing Development Co., a nonprofit subsidiary of the Carpenters & Joiners Local 964 of Ramapo.
WinnDevelopment has been selected by the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) to redevelop the first and one of the largest public housing developments in New England. Built in the 1930s, the Mary Ellen McCormack property consists of 1,016 deeply subsidized apartments and row houses. The $1.6 billion redevelopment effort will demolish the 27 three-story brick buildings in four phases over multiple years. The current proposal calls for rebuilding the site with approximately 3,000 new units, including replacing all existing subsidized units and creating workforce (middle-income) as well as market-rate apartments and homeownership condominiums. In addition, all units, regardless of affordability level, will be of identical quality and integrated evenly among the newly constructed buildings. The WinnDevelopment plan was one of five proposals that BHA received for the South Boston redevelopment. A selection committee comprised of residents of the Mary Ellen McCormack development and BHA staff reviewed plans and interviewed all teams that submitted proposals. The WinnDevelopment team received high points for its demonstrated model for strong resident partnerships and robust resident services, according to BHA leaders.
When the Orinoka Civic House in Kensington received more than 650 applicants for its 51 affordable rentals earlier this year, two things were clear: 1) There was a great need for affordable housing in Philly and 2) there would be no trouble filling these rentals. But that was in March. Today, more than a dozen units are still up for grabs at the old factory-turned-mixed-income housing development at 2771-2777 Ruth Street. So what happened? “It was somewhat unexpected,” says Felix Torres-Colon, executive director of New Kensington CDC (NKCDC). “The units for people at 20 percent of the area’s median income (AMI) went right away, but the units for people at around 60 percent have been going slightly slower.” The Orinoka Civic House is a low-income housing tax credit project, which means that potential tenants’ incomes have to match or be able to carry particular rents. In Orinoka’s case, NKCDC has struggled to find renters who meet the 50 to 60 percent income level.
Plans to renovate Lassiter Courts, a public housing complex in the city’s Southeast Community, will move forward after getting state approval this summer for an important piece of funding. But the state’s rejection of similar funding at Spratley House will delay plans there until at least next year. The Newport News Redevelopment and Housing Authority plans to do the same kind of work at Lassiter — about $5.9 million worth — that it has done at Oyster Point, Cypress and Brighton apartment complexes: renovating kitchens, fixing up roofs and floors, and working on HVAC systems, to name a few plans. Those properties have been or will be renovated under a program called Rental Assistance Demonstration, or RAD, which is operated under the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Created three years ago, RAD allows local housing authorities to do what they usually can’t and use private money for renovations, as HUD claims that it is continually strapped for cash. RAD allows housing authorities to sell low-income housing tax credits — granted by a state’s housing authority — to private investors or companies. That’s why Newport News needed the state housing authority’s approval for tax credits.
By this time next year, Morningside will have 46 new housing units, 13 in the former Morningside Public School and 33 in a new building being built on the school’s parking lot. This is good news in a tight housing market, and the neighborhood is eager to see new life in the school, which closed 11 years ago, said Ben Kelley, president of the Morningside Area Citizens Council. Construction began earlier this year at the site, Jancey Street and Greenwood Avenue, but a ground-breaking ceremony Wednesday brought out about 50 people. Mayor Bill Peduto thanked former state Sen. Jim Ferlo for his early advocacy of the school’s reuse, saying, “This will be an opportunity for people to retire and stay in the neighborhood and to get together in the heart” of it. Mr. Kelley said the neighborhood council “has been working with the developer to make sure our residents are first in line” to move in, which will free up much-in-demand housing.
Princeton Community Housing, the nonprofit operator of affordable housing, is looking to add more 40 apartments to one of its developments on Bunn Drive. The proposal would expand the 238-unit Princeton Community Village, now fully occupied with 654 people, PCH executive director Edward Truscelli said Tuesday. Details, though, still need to be ironed out. PCH and the municipality are splitting in half the $376,750 in pre-development costs, like paying for engineering services. The town’s share is coming out of its affordable housing trust fund that real estate developers pay into. “We’re going to be looking at the feasibility of what the units would look like and how we would design them and how we would construct them,” Truscelli said. Municipal planning director Lee O. Solow said Tuesday that the town, for a long time, has wanted to put 40 more apartments at Princeton Community Village. “And the town’s been in discussion with them for years about could we add some units there,” Solow said.
Lancaster County officials said Monday they are taking steps to reinvigorate blighted and abandoned properties even as they continue to face challenges with the speed and funding of those efforts. In a public meeting organized by state senators, they discussed what’s been working well — like local reinvestment and land bank programs — and what has the potential for blight — like the recently vacated Giant grocery store in Lancaster city. “(The Giant) could sit there for a significant period of time and gradually become a blighting influence, even though it’s being maintained and the taxes are paid,” said Randy Patterson, director of economic development and neighborhood revitalization for the city. Patterson, in the meeting held by Republican Sens. Scott Martin and David Argall, evoked the Giant scenario to request that state lawmakers look into ways that would allow municipalities more flexibility in addressing vacant lots that have a “significant economic or quality-of-life impact on a neighborhood.”
After seeing their first affordable housing project for seniors fill in a flash, Landis Communities and HDC MidAtlantic are thinking about doing it again, but on a larger scale. Dubbed Manor View Terrace, the $12.5 million proposal would put 60 housing units for low-income people age 62 and older on what is currently vacant land on Manor Avenue in Millersville Borough. Larry Zook, president and CEO of Landis Communities, said the need is large, as evidenced “by the long wait list for nearly every existing apartment, as well as the fact that nationally more than 10,000 Baby Boomers are turning age 65 every day, which will continue through at least 2030.” Both organizations are nonprofit and their first project, Mountain View Terrace, opened in New Holland two years ago, and now has a waiting list of three to five years for some of its 36 apartments, Zook said. Monthly rent there for a one-bedroom apartment including heat, water, sewer and trash service ranges from $260 for someone with annual income of $9,720, up to $684 for someone with annual income of $29,160, according to Community Manager Jane Wilt.
Denver-based real estate investment company Steele Properties has entered the Maine market with the acquisition of an eight-property affordable housing portfolio from Liberty Cos., based in Portland. The properties include 170 units, 72% of which are project-based Sec. 8. The seven project-based Sec. 8 properties include the 16-unit Fairfield Family Apartments in Fairfield, the 24-unit Fort Halifax Commons in Winslow, the 10-unit MC Smith Apartments and the 15-unit Sherwood Apartments in Farmington, the 15-unit Pittsfield Gardens in Pittsfield, the 12-unit Richmond Senior Citizens Park in Richmond, and the 30-unit West Front Residences in Skowhegan. The remaining property is Green Acre Estates with 48 units in West Bath. Rehabilitation costs are slated to be over $42,000 per unit spread across the portfolio. Renovations will vary by property and will include exterior and interior updates as well as energy-efficiency upgrades. Interior updates will include upgraded kitchens and baths, plumbing and electrical, paint, flooring, and doors. A dozen units across the portfolio also will be updated to be ADA accessible. Renovations are underway and expected to be completed by spring 2018.
Did you know that every dollar of federal tax credits issued has been generating roughly 10 times the level of investment? When it comes to a housing program in Pennsylvania, thankfully, it’s become a proven fact. Each year, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) distributes nearly $30 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). As a result, the credits have consistently led to almost $300 million of new investment in housing, according to PHFA – enabling developers to create or rehabilitate more than 84,000 affordable places to live for more than 200,000 Pennsylvanians. It’s not just low-income Pennsylvanians who are experiencing the benefits. Despite the program’s name, LIHTC serves those whose incomes are less than 60 percent of the area’s median income. In reality, they’re helping our friends, neighbors, and family members, as well as seniors, veterans, and those with disabilities who live in our communities.
Massachusetts will use a combined $100 million in housing subsidy funds and state and federal tax credits to bolster the Commonwealth’s affordable housing stock, Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday. Baker announced the funding at a groundbreaking for Olmsted Green, a 41-unit condominium development in Mattapan that’s the first workforce housing homeownership project funded by MassHousing’s Opportunity Fund. The development is also funded by the city’s Department of Neighborhood Development and Neighborhood Housing Trust. The additional $100 million funding is split between $72 million in housing subsidy funds, federal HOME funds and state capital funds and $28 million in state and federal low-income housing tax credits from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. The money will fund 25 projects statewide, which will create or preserve 1,978 rental units. Some 1,698 of those units are defined affordable.
Local elected officials joined with the nonprofit Comunilife and NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull officials today to break ground on the construction of a new six-story, 53,200-square-foot community residence building. The $28 million construction project on the city hospital campus will provide 89 units of supportive and affordable housing. Woodhull Hospital, 179 Throop Avenue, is on the Bedford-Stuyvesant side of where the neighborhood meets up with Williamsburg and Bushwick. “This facility will be great for the future residents with special needs, for the other new residents who would otherwise be severely rent burdened, for our health system since it helps us provide more care in the most appropriate setting, and for the community as a welcome new engine for commerce,” said Stanley Brezenoff, Interim President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals. “We’re happy to play a part in making this happen.” All 89 studio units will have their own kitchenettes and bathrooms. Fifty-four will be set aside for supportive housing—for patients of NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull who have behavioral health issues, are eligible for medical discharge, but do not have permanent housing to which to be released. The other 35 units will be available to individuals whose income is at or below 60 percent of the “area median income,” or, currently, $22,207 (which is 60 percent of $37,011).
At a groundbreaking ceremony at Mattapan’s Olmsted Green development site on Tuesday, Gov. Charlie Baker announced $72 million in state funding for 25 housing projects across the Bay State, eight of them in Boston. In addition to Olmsted Green, another long-awaited project in Mattapan, the mixed-use development called Cote Village, will now move forward. Once completed, the Village will comprise 76 units of new housing on the site of a long-abandoned car dealership on Cummins Highway. The city-owned site was awarded to a development team that includes Caribbean Integration Community Development and the Planning Office for Urban Affairs of the Archdiocese of Boston. The units will be divided into 56 affordable units, 8 units for formerly homeless individuals or families, and several units for persons with disabilities. The funding, which comes from housing subsidies and state and federal tax credits, will be used in the creation, rehabilitation, and preservation of 1,970 housing units across the state, including 402 units for families that are very low-income or are making the transition from homelessness, according to a statement from the governor’s office.
Midwest / Central
Joyce Pavlik's decision to move to Idaho two years ago almost put her out on the streets. She and her husband, Richard, moved from Arizona in 2015 to be closer to their children. But when the price of rent for their small house in south Nampa shot up $200 in two years, she found she couldn't afford the cost of living with the fixed income she and Richard receive through Social Security. The Pavliks are one of thousands of families in the area facing the same problem. More people are flocking to Canyon County every year, increasing the demand for housing at a rate that outpaces new construction. At the peak of this crisis, many face homelessness if they can't find a place to live within a difficult market to navigate.
Sixteen residents concerned over a proposed $8.4 million, 60-unit apartment complex packed a scheduled public hearing at City Hall Thursday evening. The Prichard family of Storm Lake have agreed to an option to purchase seven acres of a 20-acre field that sits between East Milwaukee Avenue to the north, 4th Street to the South and Hickory Street to the East. Two development companies from Missouri intend to build a three-story complex in the south part of the field, but to do so, would need the City to rezone property from R1 (single family residential) to R4 (high-density multi-family). The project would rely on winning state Low Income Housing Tax Credits. The deadline to apply for the credits is December, and if they are not approved, the owner proposes that the zoning stay R1. Construction would start late next summer and likely be completed by fall 2019. The company is a certified green builder, and would employ an on-site manager. Residents of the area expressed many concerns, from their property values to traffic to stormwater backup to crime.
The year 2017 saw a new housing development break ground on Fourth Avenue North. By mid-summer, representatives from Ohio-based Miller Valentine Group were looking ahead to filling the units and completing the project. Planning for the Fourth Avenue Lofts project began in October 2015 when the proposal was presented to city officials. In 2016, the Iowa Finance Authority awarded the Miller Valentine Group $700,000 in tax credits for the project. In fall 2016, the City Council approved a single lot of 1.586 acres, which runs from 214 to 238 Fourth Ave. North, where the housing development could be built. An official development agreement was approved in October 2016 and ground broke on the facility in January 2017. The complex, which is estimated to cost $9 million, will hold 48 residential units once completed. Forty-three of the units will be designated for low-to-moderate income housing. The facility is expected to include many amenities for residents, including a community room with a theater, a fitness room, business rooms and an outdoor recreation area.
Local officials and consultants of the City of Garden City’s preservation plan on Wednesday hosted a workshop on downtown preservation and tax credits, which indicated that preserving the downtown area could create a “buzz” to the area. Phil Thomason, of Thomason & Associates of Denver, who is serving as one of the city’s consultants on updating the local preservation plan, said he has been working with the city since early spring and now is at the point where drafts have been submitted to the city and the state office. “We have heard comments back and are now working on finalizing those,” Thomason said Wednesday of the drafts. “The primary recommendations of the plan is to go ahead and move forward with listing downtown on the National Register For Historic Places.” In 2011, a survey was done by another consulting group on a number of buildings in the downtown area in terms of contributing and non-contributing status, Thomason said. The survey concluded that despite all the alterations done to buildings, it’s still cohesive enough to have a national registered historical district downtown.
Once an old airport hotel, The Ashford on Broad is a unique 131-unit affordable assisted-living community in Columbus, Ohio. Pricey market-rate assisted-living developments have been built in the area, but this new development is reaching a population that wouldn’t typically be able to afford the services. The project was developed by Wallick Communities, an experienced affordable housing company that has also developed market-rate assisted-living projects to a smaller extent during its long 51-year history. In recent years, the firm has been working on a model to build affordable assisted-living communities. “Who’s taking care of the working class?” says CEO Tom Feusse. “No one was taking care of the middle-income or lower-income individuals.” By 2030, the 65-and-older population will increase by 50% to 74.1 million, according to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care, which earlier this year announced awarding a research grant to study the “middle-market” population of seniors—the group between the lowest- and highest-income levels. Many in this group will be without adequate retirement and long-term care savings.
A developer of affordable housing is proposing a new building at the edge of downtown with below market rent in every unit, some going as low as $100 a month. "This is an area that's kind of up and coming," Erin Anderson, Midwest vice president for the Commonwealth Development Corp., said Tuesday, Aug. 15. "We may be in the early stages of transition for the neighborhood, but I know there's a lot of good things planned for it." The Fond du Lac, Wis., firm would construct a $5 million, 42-unit apartment building called The Edge Artist Flats at 1321 5th Ave. N., a vacant lot bordered in part by the railroad tracks and University Drive. The Kilbourne Group, which developed the Woodrow Wilson apartments down the street and many other downtown buildings, now owns the land. The project comes at a time when city leaders are increasingly concerned about the affordability of downtown housing as developers focus on high-end projects, such as Woodrow Wilson. An apartment building with all units renting for below market rate like Commonwealth's is unheard of in a new development.
You never have to wait long for news of another transit-oriented development (TOD) to land in Chicago, especially near the bustling Northwest stretch of the Blue Line. Less than two weeks after we caught wind that a parcel near the California Blue Line stop was being marketed for TOD development (right across from an existing TOD), now comes word of a developer's plan to transform a property at 1741 N. Western Ave.—a little more than a block south of the Blue Line Western station—into a five-story, 37-unit TOD. The plan would see the existing brick building at the site demolished and replaced by a new combination of studios and one- and two-bedroom units. (The rendering above shows the proposed TOD; the image below is the existing structure.) DNA Info reports that a zoning-change request that was put forth in July is still in committee in the City Council. The office of Ald. Scott Waguespack (Ward 32) told DNA that the request is still being considered. Density advocates often favor TODs for adding housing stock near CTA stations for non-motorists. (The development would include 30 spaces for bike parking compared to just seven for cars.) But TODs, especially between Wicker Park and Logan Square, have also been known to stir fears of gentrification among community organizations.
The Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) has reserved more than $27 million in federal low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs) for the creation of 1,759 affordable housing units in 34 developments. The LIHTCs will help fund the construction and rehabilitation of housing serving families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities across the state. Demand for LIHTCs was more than double the supply during the 2017 allocation round, with OHFA receiving 83 applications seeking more than $67 million in housing tax credits.
The Tennessee Housing Development Agency is waiving all income restrictions on apartment units in its Low Income Housing Tax Credit program for victims of Hurricane Harvey who flee to Tennessee. The announcement was made Thursday in a news release from THDA. Lease term restrictions are also being suspended, meaning landlords in the program can offer leases to hurricane victims as short as one month or on a month-to-month basis. LIHTC was established under President Ronald Reagan as an incentive to private developers to build and maintain affordable housing, according to the release. As the state’s housing finance agency, THDA manages the LIHTC allocations in Tennessee, which to date have been used to finance construction or rehabilitation of more than 61,000 units. “Our hearts go out to the people of Texas who have lost their homes, and we’re exploring every possible opportunity to help,” said THDA Executive Director Ralph M. Perrey. “Many hurricane victims have fled to Tennessee and need short-term housing. We’re opening up LIHTC properties so that any and all vacancies are available to them, without restrictions on income and length of lease.”
With Austin facing an affordable housing crisis, city leaders are hoping that taxpayers will OK tens of millions of dollars to fund the construction of low-cost apartments and houses as well as repairs to homes for Austin’s low-income and working-class population. Right now, the figure proposed is $85 million. That’s what city staff presented to the Bond Election Advisory Task Force as part of a broader $640 million general obligation bond that City Council is planning on putting on the November 2018 ballot for voters to approve. The bond also includes major spending on parks, stormwater infrastructure, improvements to municipal facilities and transportation. Although $85 million would amount to the largest housing bond in city history, it’s a substantially smaller figure than the $175 million of potential funding that housing staff presented to those in the Financial Services Department who crafted the bond proposal. And it’s a drop in the bucket of the more than $6 billion in needs identified in the Strategic Housing Blueprint adopted by Council earlier this year. However, explained Katy Zamesnik, the city staff liaison for the task force, by no means should the initial recommendation be regarded as final. That was simply a “starting point” to which the task force and Council will likely build upon, she said.
Eight months after a fire ripped through a former elementary school, work has begun to tear down the building. The Housing Authority of Winston-Salem owns the former Brown Elementary School, at the corner of 12th Street and Highland Avenue. It was gutted in a fire on Dec. 20, 2016. The cause of the fire was never determined. After the building is demolished, the Housing Authority plans to build a 120-unit affordable-housing complex for seniors 62 and older, said Kevin Cheshire, vice president and general counsel for the Housing Authority. However, it will be at least a year before construction begins on the property. The agency applied for a tax credit through the N.C. House Financing Agency with high hopes of securing it to make the project more affordable, he said. The Housing Authority learned this month they didn’t receive the tax credit. Cheshire said the credits are highly competitive, with only one project awarded in Forsyth County this year.
The Housing Authority got approval Monday from the Planning Commission to expand an apartment complex it operates and now awaits word on whether it will get a tax credit to help pay for construction. Commissioners voted 5-2, with two abstaining, on a development plan to bring 58 additional units to Morgan Manor, 324 E. 12th Place. The complex, operated under a form of Section 8 called the Rental Assistance Demonstration program, already has 52 units on about 9 acres. The expansion would sit on about 3 acres. The Rental Assistance Demonstration program mixes public and private equity to provide rental assistance to low-income residents. City Attorney Kit Williams on June 22 sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development asking if the Housing Authority followed federal rules and regulations in a plan to move residents from public housing. Housing Authority officials decided to move residents living in public housing at Willow Heights, 10 S. Willow Ave., to an expansion on land it owns at Morgan Manor. A local electrician, Vlad Tatter, and his business partners agreed on a contract to buy the Willow Heights property for $1.25 million and build homes.
KeyBank Community Development Lending & Investment (CDLI) announced it is providing $31.2 million in financing for the construction of Cornerstone Apartments in Salem, Ore. The 180-unit development by Mountain West Investment Corp. and its nonprofit arm, Community Resource Trust (CRT), will provide affordable housing for workforce families and those experiencing homelessness. Cornerstone Apartments will set aside 144 units for workforce households earning at or below 60% of the area median income. Thirty-six units will be set aside for those in transitional shelters who are seeking permanent housing and supported by the Department of Human Services (DHS). “We believe access to adequate affordable housing options can have a transformative impact in communities we serve,” says Beth Hays, CEO of CRT.
Nonprofit El Centro de la Raza, translated as The Center for People of All Races, has served the diverse residents of Seattle’s gentrifying Beacon Hill neighborhood over the past four decades. Founded in 1972 by the late civil rights defender Roberto Maestas, the organization has been a vital part of the community, providing programs and advocacy for children and adults to ensure social equity and justice. When El Centro de la Raza started to see families and other households displaced from the neighborhood, it set out to create a mixed-use, transit-oriented housing development that would serve the entire community. “Low-income communities of color were moving out of the city,” says Estela Ortega, executive director. “This was an opportunity to bring people back to the city, get them out of their cars, and allow them to hop on the train and go downtown where many of the jobs are.”
A group of city and county leaders gathered in an Atkinson Lane construction zone Thursday, standing on a foundation for a future apartment complex to raise the first wall. Although the wall was lowered after standing upright for a few minutes, the ceremonial event was meant to represent the culmination of a years-long process for Pippin Orchards, a 46-unit complex on 56 Atkinson Lane. The 3.7-acre project, developed by MidPen Housing, consists of 20 apartment units within city limits, while the other 26 are located on unincorporated Santa Cruz County land. “This is one of those times when you can have one foot in the City of Watsonville and one foot in the county,” said Jan Lindenthal, vice president of real estate development for MidPen. The City of Watsonville and County of Santa Cruz entered into an agreement where the city provides services such as police and water for the entire project, while the county will process building permits, among other things.
The University of Washington plans to build some affordable housing for its faculty and staff in a bid to help employees avoid getting priced out of Seattle’s roaring housing market. The university said Tuesday it will partner with the Seattle Housing Authority to build at least 150 subsidized apartments in the University District, with rents far below the market rate. Many of the details have yet to be worked out — including a financing plan — and the units won’t open for at least another four years. But the university already owns the property needed for the project. UW said it wanted to build housing because many of its 28,900 employees cannot afford to live near campus. Rents in the U District average about $1,750 per month, while the median house in Northeast Seattle costs about $825,000.
Residents remain concerned about a controversial affordable apartment complex for veterans proposed for the southwest corner of Lugonia Avenue and Texas Street. Officials with A Community of Friends, the project’s developer, and U.S. Vets Inland Empire, the project’s service provider, attempted to assuage residents’ concerns about public safety and the project’s location during a community meeting Wednesday at the Redlands Community Center. The 80-unit Liberty Lane apartment complex would serve mostly low-income and homeless veterans and their families, many of whom would be dealing with mental health diagnoses. “I believe veterans should have the best because after all they fought for us,” said Jurlean Polidore, who owns property near the project site. “My concern is the mental illness and the homeless.” Project officials, however, say the project will fill the need for affordable housing for veterans and their families as well as low-income families. Tenants will undergo a stringent screening process and will be supported by an array of services, they say.
Affordable housing industry veteran Lisa Castillo has been named president of Merritt Community Capital Corp., a California-based low-income housing tax credit syndicator. Castillo recently served as vice president of originations at WNC, where she led tax credit syndication negotiation and origination efforts in the western region that placed more than $580 million in equity during her tenure. Previously, she held senior executive roles in both the public and private sectors, where she was responsible for the acquisition, finance, and project management of affordable housing developments across the United States, as well as implementation of county housing programs. Castillo succeeds Barney Deasy, who was president of the company for more than 20 years. Deasy will continue to serve as an external consultant to ensure a smooth transition of leadership. "After a long search to find a successor for our well-regarded leader, Barney Deasy, we are thrilled to have Lisa Castillo join us to fill that role,” said Christine Carr, chair of the Merritt board of directors, in a statement. “She brings a deep knowledge of affordable housing and tax credit syndication, and we look forward, with Lisa at the helm, to continuing Merritt's accomplishments and outstanding track record in the market."
Developers are using the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program in poor areas like South Los Angeles — but the lack of affordable housing built in pricier areas like Beverly Hills may be a root cause of the city’s economic segregation. Nearly two-thirds of the development in Los Angeles that was funded using the credits over the past decade has gone to homes where the average income is less than $40,000 a year, KPCC reported. The program is meant to encourage affordable housing throughout the L.A. County, but developers are building repeatedly in the same areas, such as the neighborhoods that surround Downtown L.A. on the 110 Freeway, and near MacArthur Park — pockets that are often poor, troubled and segregated. The tax credit program serves as a way for the county to see where affordable housing is being built. With the City of Los Angeles planning to invest $1.2 billion in housing for the homeless in the next decade, the percentage heading to higher-income neighborhoods will have to increase soon to avoid clustering the homeless population into segregated neighborhoods.
Mercy Housing California has closed a deal to use “certificated” state housing credits on its latest affordable housing development. The transaction will help finance the development of the 180 West Beamer Street development in Woodland, Calif. The new 80-unit community will serve low-income families, with 32 units set aside for special-needs residents. The deal with investor U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp. (USBCDC) is believed to be the first transaction using certificated credits to close in the state. The team faced the challenges that come with using a brand-new program, including creating new documents and working through deadlines and pay-in schedules that differed from those used in traditional credit transactions, according to Stephan Daues, Mercy Housing’s director of real estate division for the Sacramento region. However, the approximately $30.7 million development was able to secure a higher price for its state housing credits that will eventually result in additional equity for the development of 180 West Beamer.
More and more Oregonians are facing homelessness due to high rents and a shortage of affordable housing options. High housing costs are draining family budgets like never before, and homelessness is becoming an intractable problem. As health care providers, we know people with histories of homelessness often live with chronic, complex and often disabling health conditions. Helping more households afford decent housing and ending homelessness improves the health and well-being of a community. That is why we came together with Kaiser Permanente, OHSU, Adventist Health and Providence Health & Services, for a first-ever health systems investment in building 379 new units of deeply affordable housing through a partnership with Central City Concern in Portland. Because housing is so critically linked to health, we urge Congress to preserve the Department of Housing and Urban Development budget. Congress needs to provide $21.8 billion for Section 8 vouchers as part of the appropriations for HUD programs in Fiscal Year 2018. This is the level of funding needed to ensure that every single housing voucher currently in circulation will be renewed. Should President Trump's proposed budget be accepted, nearly 4,000 housing vouchers would be lost in Oregon, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Sheila James starts her Monday, and the workweek, at 2:15 a.m. This might be normal for a baker or a morning radio host, but Ms. James is a standard American office worker. She is 62 and makes $81,000 a year as a public health adviser for the United States Department of Health and Human Services in San Francisco. Her early start comes because San Francisco is one of the country’s most expensive metropolitan areas. Ms. James lives about 80 miles away in Stockton, which has cheaper homes but requires her to commute on two trains and a bus, leaving at 4 a.m. Plenty of office workers get up at 5 a.m. or a bit before, but 2:15 is highly unusual. “Two-fifteen is early enough that some people are still having their evening,” she said on a (very) early morning. But she likes to take her time and have coffee. She keeps the lights low and the house quiet and Zen-like. “I just can’t rush like that,” she said.
The transformation of the obsolete Alice Griffith public housing site, which had been dilapidated and plagued with crime, in San Francisco has been night and day. Known as the Double Rock, the public housing community near Candlestick Park had been isolated from the rest of the city. Now the area is undergoing a major revitalization. The renewal of Alice Griffith is part of master developer FivePoint Communities’ larger Hunters Point Shipyard Phase 2 and Candlestick Point development plan, which includes 10,500 new homes, with 32% available for rent or sale at below-market rates. Led by the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, in partnership with St. Louis–based developer McCormack Baron Salazar (MBS), the San Francisco Housing Development Corp., and Tabernacle Community Development Corp., the first two phases of the Alice Griffith redevelopment includes 184 units of mixed-income housing, including 114 units for returning Alice Griffith residents.
Developers of affordable housing in La Plata, Montezuma, Archuleta, and San Juan Counties have a new source of funding for development of affordable housing. HomesFund has expanded its loan products to include Development Support Loans that provide predevelopment financing to developers of affordable housing. Developers of rental or for-sale homes that house families with incomes below 80% of the area median (determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) may be eligible for predevelopment loans of up to $250,000. The HomesFund Development Support predevelopment loans can be used to cover architectural services, geotechnical studies, environmental assessments, appraisals, and other expenses incurred when developing affordable housing. The HomesFund Development Support Loans will be targeted to developers of affordable housing that utilize the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, but the loans are not limited to developers utilizing the LIHTC program. All developers who use the HomesFund Development Support products must be developing housing that is affordable to low income households.
Housing advocates in Yuba City are determined to move forward with a bold plan to find homes for hundreds of people currently living along the banks of the Feather River. The plan starts with the demolition of an abandoned county building and the construction of a brand new three-story apartment complex for the homeless. The building will have 44-units that include studio, 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom apartments. “Anything to get these folks back on their feet and get them the help that they need,” Regional Housing Authority Executive Director Gustavo Becerra said. Officials believe about 300 homeless people live on the banks of the Feather River and as many as 1,100 homeless people live in the Sutter and Yuba County region. The push for permanent, affordable housing will also include drug, alcohol and job counseling for people who are currently homeless. Many residents living near the proposed site at the intersection of Garden Highway and Miles Avenue said they support the concept of building housing for the homeless. “I think it's a good idea,” Yuba City resident Jolene Clark said. “The homeless need it. It's hard to live out there in this environment, right now. It's hot and it's hard to get a job right now."