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Legislative Alert: Midterm Election Results Mean Changes in Washington and Opportunities for Housing

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 8, 2018

The midterm elections this week will lead to a number of leadership changes in Congress, along with many opportunities to further affordable housing resources. The Democrats clinched a majority in the House of Representatives while the Republicans grew their Senate majority. These shifts, in combination with a number of retirements, will mean committee leadership changes in the House as well as a number of new committee assignments in both chambers.

 

Committee Changes

 

Several Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) champions will be leaving Congress at the end of this year. Most notably, the lead sponsor of the House version of the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Improvement Act, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), lost his reelection, leaving an opening for a Republican lead on this important legislation. In addition to Curbelo, other Ways and Means Committee members that lost their elections include: Reps. Pete Roskam (R-IL), Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Mike Bishop (R-MI). Six Ways and Means members additionally did not seek reelection: Reps. Sam Johnson (R-TX), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), Diane Black (R-TN), Jim Renacci (R-OH) and Kristi Noem (R-SD). Finally, two Democrats, Reps. Sandy Levin (D-MI) and Joe Crowley (D-NY), will also not be returning. The current House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member and Democrat lead on the Housing Credit legislation, Representative Richard Neal (D-MA), won his race and is now poised to take the chairman role in the 116th Congress.

 

On the Senate side, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Finance Committee Chairman and Republican lead on the Senate version of the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Improvement Act, is retiring, leaving the chairmanship position for this key committee open. The new leadership for the committee is still unclear, but conversations have centered on Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) taking the position, or Senator Michael Crapo (R-ID). Committee member changes include the loss of Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), who did not win his reelection bid along with Democrat committee member Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). Senator Bill Nelson’s (D-FL) race is going into a recount, leaving another Democrat seat potentially up for grabs in the coveted committee. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Democrat lead on the Housing Credit legislation won her reelection and will continue to be a champion for affordable housing issues on this committee.

 

Other key committee shifts will be prevalent in the House under the new Democrat leadership, as well as some shifts in key Senate committees. The House Appropriations Committee will likely see Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) as the first chairwoman in the history of the committee. Under Lowey’s leadership, the Committee would likely turn more focus on domestic spending priorities. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) would likely serve as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee again in his first full session in the role. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) would likely take over as chairwoman for the House Financial Services Committee, while Senator Michael Crapo (R-ID) may stay on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. If Senator Crapo takes the gavel for Senate Finance, the Banking Committee would likely go to Senator Patrick Toomey (R-PA).

 

What’s Next? Lame Duck Session Opportunity

 

Congressional Republicans now only have a few short weeks to enact their remaining priorities in the 115th Congress, which could mean last minute tax legislation such as tax extenders and technical fixes to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. These efforts could provide a vehicle for important Housing Credit improvements such as enacting a minimum 4 percent Housing Credit rate and other important provisions of the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Improvement Act. With more than 40 percent of Congress signed on as cosponsors to the legislation, NALHFA and other Housing Credit advocates are in a strong position to negotiate these important priorities into tax legislation as it emerges. NALHFA members should ask their Members of Congress to encourage congressional leadership to pass the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act or to include the legislation in the next tax package that Congress advances in the 115th Congress.

 

State and Local Housing Wins

 

There was an unprecedented number of affordable housing issues on the ballot at the state and local levels this year. Voters in many communities voted to provide increased affordable housing resources at this critical time during the country’s affordable housing crisis.

  • California voters passed Propositions 1 and 2 that will create billions in funding for the creation of affordable housing for vulnerable populations including the chronically homeless, people with disabilities or mental illness, and military veterans.
  •  Oregon passed two initiatives to create access to safe and affordable homes for 12,000 of the state’s lowest income people.
  • San Francisco, CA passed Prop C which would provide $2.4 billion in affordable housing and services for the chronically homeless.
  • Austin, TX voted for a $250 million affordable housing bond.
  • Charlotte and Chapel Hill, NC and San Juan County and Bellingham, Washington passed bonds to address affordable housing needs.

 

These state and local housing wins show the widespread support for increasing affordable housing resources across the country. It also highlights an opportunity for NALHFA to build on its efforts advocating for resources that will help local housing finance agencies preserve and create more affordable housing options. NALHFA plans to use this momentum to strengthen our partnerships and work with Congress to further strong bipartisan affordable housing solutions.

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Legislative Alert: Treasury Department Releases Proposed Opportunity Zones Regulatory Guidance

Posted By Administration, Monday, October 22, 2018

The U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) has released proposed regulatory guidance on Opportunity Zones. These long awaited proposed regulations will help investors and local governments determine the types of developments eligible for Opportunity Funds investment.

 

The Opportunity Zones tax benefit holds tremendous opportunity for local governments and is the first community development tax incentive program created since the Clinton Administration. Investors will be able to receive a temporary tax deferral and other tax benefits by investing unrealized capital gains into Opportunity Funds for a minimum of five years. 

 

Treasury's proposed regulations address many questions about the Opportunity Zones tax benefit including the eligibility requirements for taxpayers to defer capital gains through Opportunity Fund investment and how corporations or partnerships can self certify and qualify as an Opportunity Fund. Additionally, a revenue ruling was also released to address the "original use" requirement for real property in section 1400Z-2(d)(2)(D)(i)(II), and the "substantial improvement" requirement in sections 1400Z-2(d)(2)(D)(i)(II) and 1400Z-2(d)(2)(D)(ii).

 

Click here to view the proposed Opportunity Zones regulations.

 

Click here to view the revenue ruling.

 

Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said of the proposed regulations, “We want all Americans to experience the dynamic opportunities being generated by President Trump’s economic policies. We anticipate that $100 billion in private capital will be dedicated towards creating jobs and economic development in Opportunity Zones. This incentive will foster economic revitalization and promote sustainable economic growth, which was a major goal of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”

 

NALHFA’s government relations team will be submitting comments on the proposed regulations to Treasury. If you have comments you would like to be included, or if you have any questions on this guidance, please contact NALHFA's Policy Director Heather Voorman at hvoorman@nalhfa.org or at 202-367-2405. 

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Legislative Alert: GAO Releases Report on LIHTC Costs

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Yesterday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a study on development costs for low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) properties. The report features the development costs of LIHTC properties in 10 states between 2011 and 2015 and is the final report in a series the GAO conducted at the request of Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) on LIHTC. Other reports have covered topics including the federal and state administration of LIHTC and the role of syndicators in the program.

 

The report outlines wide variation in development costs and several cost drivers for LIHTC projects. The report does not compare LIHTC costs and market-rate development costs. The report and GAO recommendations for the LIHTC program instead focus on data collection and the need for collecting more information about costs. The GAO included in their recommendations:

  • Congress should consider designating an agency to collect cost-related LIHTC data and periodically assess and report on LIHTC project development costs.
  • The IRS should require general contractor cost certifications for LIHTC projects to verify consistency with the developer cost certification.
  • The IRS should encourage allocating agencies and other LIHTC stakeholders to collaborate on the development of more standardized cost data.
  • The IRS should communicate to credit allocating agencies how to collect information on and review LIHTC syndication expenses, including upper-tier partnership expenses.

The 10 states examined were Texas, Georgia, Ohio, Arizona, Florida, Washington, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, and California. The median per unit costs for new construction projects fell in a wide range from about $126,000 (Texas) to about $326,000 (California). The variance in geographies widened when looking at individual allocating agencies ranging from as little as $104,000 per unit (Georgia) to as much as $606,000 per unit (California). The GAO estimates that:

  •  larger projects (more than 100 units) cost about $85,000 less per unit than smaller projects (fewer than 37 units), consistent with economies of scale;
  • projects in urban areas cost about $13,000 more per unit than projects in nonurban areas;
  • projects for senior tenants—nearly one-third of all projects—cost about $7,000 less per unit than those for other tenants, potentially due to smaller unit sizes.

For over 30 years, LIHTC has been a model public-private partnership program leveraging private sector resources, market forces, and state-level administration. The program has financed approximately 3 million apartments since 1986, providing 6.7 million families with housing they can afford. Without LIHTC, virtually no affordable rental housing development would occur.

 

NALHFA maintains the most important thing Congress can do to improve the LIHTC program is to enact the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Improvement Act (S. 548/H.R. 1661). The expansion and enhancement of the LIHTC program remains one of NALHFA’s top legislative priorities. NALHFA’s government relations team will continue our push on Capitol Hill for the passage of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act and will work with our industry partners as an active member of the ACTION Campaign—the coalition of over 2,200 national, state and local organizations working to expand and strengthen LIHTC.

 

NALHFA Members Take Action:

It is possible that Congress could consider tax legislation in the Lame Duck session after the election, which is the best opportunity to advance key provisions of the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Improvement Act this year. There are 40 bipartisan Senate cosponsors and 170 bipartisan House cosponsors on this legislation, but with increased Congressional support on each bill, it becomes more likely that provisions of the legislation will be incorporated in a year-end tax package. NALHFA members should ask their Members of Congress to encourage Congressional leadership to pass the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act or to include the legislation in the next tax package that Congress advances in the 115th Congress.

 

Find your Representative’s contact information here.

Find your Senators’ contact information here.  

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Legislative Alert: OCC Releases Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Community Reinvestment Act

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has released an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) inviting comments on modernizing the regulations that implement the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). Comments are due 75 days after the publication of the ANPR.

 

The CRA was enacted in 1977 to encourage banks to serve the needs of the communities they serve, especially the credit needs of low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Through CRA, each insured depository institution’s record in meeting the credit needs of its entire community is taken into consideration by the appropriate federal financial supervisory agency (i.e., the OCC, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (collectively, agencies)) when evaluating the bank’s application for a deposit facility. This record is also made available to the public.

 

In just the last two decades, the financial services industry has seen many significant changes including the removal of bank interstate branching restrictions and the expansion of technology in financial services. Over the last several years, The US Department of Treasury (Treasury Department) has solicited comments and feedback from stakeholders on how CRA regulations could be more effective and better serve communities across the country.

 

On April 3, 2018, the Treasury Department released recommendations to the agencies for changes to the administration of the CRA based on the feedback and comments they have received. The OCC has released the above mentioned ANPR to obtain public input on how to revise the CRA regulations to encourage community and economic development and increase economic opportunity for LMI areas, small businesses, and other communities in need of financial services.

 

The OCC’s ANPR is inviting comments on a number of areas for CRA implementation, including ideas that will:

  • Encourage more lending, investment, and activity where it is needed most;
  • Evaluating CRA activities more consistently;
  • Provide greater clarity regarding CRA-qualifying activities;
  • Modernize the current regulatory framework by modifying and streamlining the existing CRA performance tests;
  • Create metric-based performance measurements with thresholds that correspond to the CRA rating categories;
  • Provide ways to update how a bank’s community is interpreted for purposes of implementing the CRA;
  • Determine the type and categories of activities that should receive CRA consideration; and
  • Improve the timeliness of CRA regulatory decisions. 

 

NALHFA is working on comments for the ANPR urging that CRA regulations continue to support the work of local HFAs and strengthen investment in affordable housing resources like the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. If you have any contributions to NALHFA’s comments, please send them to NALHFA’s Policy Director, Heather Voorman at hvoorman@nalhfa.org by October 15, 2018. 

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Legislative Alert: FFB Risk-Sharing Program Set to Expire, Contact HUD Today!

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) – Housing Finance Agency (HFA) Multifamily Loan Risk-Sharing FFB Program is an important option for many HFAs affordable rental housing developments. The Risk-Sharing program was created by Congress in 1992 to help expedite and increase FHA’s multifamily mortgage production. Through the program, HFAs are able to underwrite and service FHA multifamily loans in exchange for sharing up to 50 percent of the risk of losses on those loans. The program has been a success, allowing the government to save money, improving housing affordability, and reducing risks to the FHA insurance fund. The program has provided over $2 billion in financing and over 20,000 affordable homes across the country.

 

Unfortunately, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is considering letting the FFB Risk-Sharing Program expire at the end of September. If that were to happen, HFAs would lose a powerful tool to finance much needed affordable housing. Instead, HUD and Treasury should extend the program agreement and allow additional loan authority to help finance the pipeline of affordable housing developments in need of this low-cost capital. The program should be extended at least until a permanent solution can be reached, which would require legislation to allow Ginnie Mae loans to be securitized through Risk-Sharing.

 

Take Action:

 

NALHFA has sent a letter to leadership at HUD communicating the importance of saving this critical program. NALHFA members are encouraged to use this letter as a template to tell the story to HUD of how the FFB Risk-Sharing program helps produce and preserve affordable housing in your community. The NALHFA government relations team will continue to communicate with HUD on this topic and will provide updates as they become available. If you have any questions, please contact NALHFA Policy Director, Heather Voorman at 202.367.2405 or hvoorman@nalhfa.org

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Legislative Alert: Senate Approves Strong HUD Funding for FY19

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 2, 2018

Today the Senate voted to approve the fiscal year FY 2019 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) spending bill. The bill sailed through the Senate with a vote of 92-6.

The Senate bill provides over $12 billion more than the President’s FY19 request, over $1 billion more than the House bill, and $1.8 billion more for HUD programs than was appropriated in FY18. This action by the Senate shows a strong commitment to investing in affordable housing programs and rejects recent proposals for drastic cuts to affordable housing funding, harmful rent increases, and work requirements for HUD program recipients. Additionally, several amendments including Senator Toomey's (R-PA) on sanctuary jurisdictions (SA 3518), Senator Lee's (R-UT) on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (SA 3520), and Senator Enzi's (R-WY) on eliminating “fragmented, duplicative or overlapping” housing assistance programs were not adopted into the final version of the bill.

Funding Levels for Key Programs:

  • The HOME Investment Partnerships and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs were level funded from FY18 at $1.362 and $3.3 billion respectively;
  • The bill provides the increases necessary to continue assistance to all families and individuals currently served by rental assistance programs. These numbers include: $22.8 billion for tenant-based Section 8 vouchers; $7.5 billion for public housing; $11.7 billion for project-based Section 8; $678 million for Housing for the Elderly; and $154 million for Housing for Persons with Disabilities.
  • Homeless assistance programs received a boost at $2.6 billion and include several provisions to better serve vulnerable populations including veterans, youth, and survivors of domestic violence.

 

 Leaders in the House and Senate are expected to reconcile a final THUD spending bill later this year. NALHFA wants to thank all of its members and coalition partners that have worked hard to protect funding levels for these critical affordable housing programs. Please make sure to reach out to your senators and thank them for their support. 

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NALHFA Member Spotlight: Housing Finance Authority of Miami-Dade County

Posted By Administration, Monday, July 30, 2018
Updated: Friday, July 27, 2018

During its 2018 Annual Conference, NALHFA presented the Housing Finance Authority of Miami-Dade County with the HOME Excellence award in recognition of the Villa Capri development. Overall, Villa Capri is a 477-unit affordable rental community, located in the Naranja neighborhood of unincorporated Miami-Dade County. Located 10 miles north of the entrance to the Florida Keys, this neighborhood was ground zero for Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which devastated all of the housing in the area. Villa Capri’s 36-acre parcel was also devastated, and replaced with what were to be temporary FEMA trailers. The trailers remained for over 7 years, and in 2005, the site was purchased by the developer for what became a three-phase affordable housing planned unit development.

 

The developer rezoned the site to a low-density, 13 per acre community, which allowed for the construction of an on-site 3-acre lake which became the focal point for all three phases of Villa Capri. The first phase consisted of 140 apartment units, and was developed using federal stimulus funds of $14.5 million, local subsidy of $300,000 and tax-exempt bonds and accompanying 4% tax credits. The units include 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom flats, 100% of which are set aside for extremely-low and very-low income households.

 

The second phase of Villa Capri consists of 240 garden style units, and utilized $15 million of state, federal and local funds, including NSP2 and FHLB funds, along with New Issue/stimulus tax-exempt bonds at a 2.13% interest rate. In this phase, 50% of the units were set aside for very- low income households and the remainder for households earning less than 60% of the median income. This phase also included the main clubhouse for the community, with 5,000 square feet, inclusive of a children’s activities room, internet café, fitness center and expansive social room. While the two other phases do have their own clubhouse facility, this phase’s clubhouse is the flagship clubhouse for the 477 units.

 

The last phase, delivered in 2017, consists of 117 affordable rental units, offering 5 apartments, 93 townhomes and 19 single-family four bedroom homes. The goal with this phase was to build a product that had not yet been offered to affordable housing residents. In particular, quite often larger families cannot find adequate housing for their needs. In this phase, 15% of the units were set aside for extremely-low income households, 5% for very-low income households and the remainder of the units for households earning less than 60% of the median income. Subsidy utilized included $4.32 million of competitively awarded local subsidy, along with the developer redeploying $6.5 million of its own equity garnered by paying off local subsidy prior to maturity on projects developed in prior years. Per County ordinance, a developer who is willing to pay off subsidy prior to maturity from other projects can then redeploy those prior year subsidy funds into new affordable housing. Without that $6.5 million of equity from the developer, the project would not have been able to be developed. Tax-exempt bonds and 4% tax credit were also sources for the project. The community offers a homeownership feel, with unit sizes averaging 1,500 square feet. Additionally, the clubhouse for this phase will be utilized for local community meetings and residents’ parties, as it was designed with one large social room for the residents.

 

Financial Resources

The HFA issued the tax-exempt Multifamily Mortgage Revenue Bonds (“MMRB”) in the amount of $13,500,000. RBC Capital Markets served as placement agent for the borrower in connection with the private placement of the bonds to JP Morgan Chase. The HFA loaned the Bond proceeds to Villa Capri II Associates, Ltd. to finance a portion of the construction of Villa Capri II Apartments. A portion of the Bonds were redeemed at construction completion. Upon meeting the conditions required for permanent financing, the Construction Loan converted to a Permanent Loan in an amount not to exceed $5,400,000. The construction term was written for 24 months with the availability of one six-month extension. The construction period interest rate was the one month LIBOR rate plus 200 basis points adjusted monthly and payable monthly. This interest rate was based on an anticipated 15 month construction period with an average disbursement level of 70% of the First Mortgage amount during the 15 month period. The permanent period term of 15 years included a 30-year amortization and a fixed base rate anticipated to be 5.32% with an 18 bps cushion for market increases between start up and construction loan closing for an “all-in” rate of 5.50%.

 

The development was funded from the following sources:

 

Source Lender Construction Permanent

First Mortgage: HFA of Miami-Dade Bonds, JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. $13,500,000

Second Mortgage: 2014 Miami-Dade Surtax Loan, Miami‐Dade County 1,775,000

Third Mortgage: Miami-Dade HOME Loan, Miami‐Dade County 2,320,000

Fourth Mortgage: Miami-Dade Subsidy Assumption, Miami‐Dade PHCD 6,500,000

Housing Credit Equity Stratford Capital Group 1,696,000

Deferred Developer Fee CSG Development Services II, LLC 698,826

Total $26,489,826

 

Villa Capri has provided a lake where there once were trailers. Its club house is open to the community which provided outreach and community involvement. The project has helped to stabilize the neighborhood and increase high quality affordable housing which also revitalizes area and spurs economic development where there was a down turn following hurricane Andrew. Villa Capri has become a magnet for future quality affording housing as well homeownership development.

 

Congratulations to Housing Finance Authority of Miami-Dade County for their outstanding work on the Villa Capri development!

 

Does your organization have a success story to share? Email NALHFA Policy Director, Heather Voorman at hvoorman@nalhfa.org.

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Call to Action: Senate FY 2019 Spending Bill Amendments Put Housing Resources at Risk

Posted By Administration, Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Senate is currently debating H.R. 6147, a package of four spending bills for fiscal year (FY) 2019 that includes the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) spending bill. NALHFA is urging members to contact their senators to oppose harmful amendments to the measure that would threaten our nation’s efforts to provide fair housing opportunities to families and would put critical housing resources at risk.

 

These amendments could be voted on as early as today, so please contact your senators as soon as possible and tell them to oppose:

  •  Senate Amendment 3520—Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) proposed this amendment to prevent HUD from implementing and enforcing the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule. The AFFH rule is a clarification of existing fair housing laws and provides state and local governments with tools to invest housing resources in a fair and effective manner.
  •  Senate Amendment 3431—This amendment proposes HUD create a plan that would eliminate “fragmented, duplicative or overlapping” housing assistance programs. This amendment proposed by Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) would put critical affordable housing resources in jeopardy.

 

Take Action Today!

 

Reach out to your Senators and tell them to oppose these harmful amendments. Click here to look up your senator’s office and call them today.

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Legislative Alert: NALHFA Seeks Member Input on FHA Insurance Rules for Down Payment Assistance

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 17, 2018
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) plans to issue an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking in September. Through this notice, HUD will be seeking comments on potential changes to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insurance rules for down payment assistance (DPA) programs. HUD is looking for comments specifically from local housing finance agencies, entities acting in a governmental capacity, and nonprofit organizations on the use of DPA and secondary financing.
 
HUD’s FHA plays a central role in providing underserved households with affordable housing financing. The FHA mortgage insurance program insures lenders against mortgage default for single and multifamily housing for low- and moderate-income families. Unlike private originators, local HFAs are government entities, meaning they automatically qualify for FHA-insured loans to use in conjunction with their DPA programs. This means HFAs are able to help creditworthy individuals with a down payment they might not otherwise be able to obtain.
 
NALHFA will be submitting comments and will take this opportunity to highlight the importance of local HFA DPA programs to help low- and moderate-income families afford a home. NALHFA is committed to preserving the ability of HFAs to provide DPA and other secondary financing on a preferred basis with FHA single-family loans. 
 
NALHFA is currently seeking member input to include in its prepared comments. Please send any contributions by August 16 to NALHFA Policy Director, Heather Voorman at hvoorman@nalhfa.org.
 
NALHFA’s government relations team will continue to monitor this topic and will provide more information about the notice of proposed rulemaking as it becomes available.

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NALHFA Member Spotlight: Fort Worth Housing Finance Corporation

Posted By Administration, Monday, July 9, 2018
Updated: Friday, June 29, 2018

During its 2018 Annual Conference, NALHFA presented the Fort Worth Housing Finance Corporation (FWHFC) with the Redevelopment Excellence award in recognition of the Columbia at Renaissance Square. This contemporary development serves as a model on how developers partnering with housing finance agencies and cities can provide residents with better live-work-play lifestyle as well as to provide quality affordable housing options in planned communities built with purpose.

 

The 2013 Analysis of Impediments, a HUD required report on the current state of impediments to fair housing choice within the City of Fort Worth, stated that the City had an “overconcentration of vouchers, assisted housing, and lower-income housing in selected areas of the City”. This report also noted that residents in lower income areas did not have equal access to the transit system. One solution to these issues was for the FWHFC to award its first loan for Columbia Renaissance Square I, L.P. to develop, own and manage Phase I of Columbia at Renaissance Square in southeast Fort Worth. Financing included 2015 9% housing tax credits from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, a conventional loan, $700,000 loan from the FWHFC, and $1.2 million in HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) funds from the City of Fort Worth have ensured that the $24 million project is fully funded.

 

Columbia at Renaissance Square is located in the Berry Hill-Mason Heights Neighborhood Empowerment Zone and is designated a Purpose Built Community. A Purpose Built Community provides a holistic approach to helping make a positive impact and includes “a community quarterback”, typically an individual or nonprofit who leads the revitalization by engaging community members, building partnerships, securing funding, and ensuring implementation of the housing, education, and wellness components of the model as part of the community’s vision. The community quarterback helps to establish mixed-income housing opportunities, a cradle-to-college education pipeline, and community wellness facilities and programs to create a defined neighborhood.

 

Renaissance Heights Development Group acts as the “community quarterback” for this development. Renaissance Heights Development Group is working in collaboration with a group of community partners known as the Renaissance Heights United initiative. They are dedicated to the proposition that everyone deserves the opportunity to live and raise their children in communities where they can achieve their full potential.

 

The community leaders involved in the partnership include The Shoppes at Renaissance Square, United Communities, ACH Child and Family Services, Uplift Education, Cook Children’s, The YMCA, Texas Wesleyan University, North Texas Area Community Health Centers, Inc., UNT Health Science Center, Renaissance Heights, Columbia Residential, and Purpose Built Communities. Columbia at Renaissance Square is place-based and neighborhood-focused and has become a vibrant community where everyone will have the opportunity to thrive.

 

Within an approved Community Revitalization Plan, Columbia at Renaissance Square 

provides mixed-income housing opportunities 

within all phases of its development. The current phase includes an 11.15-acre property, consisting of 140 one, two, and three-bedroom rental units that range in size from 750 – 1,250 square feet. 119 of these units are affordable for low- to moderate income level households, specifically to households earning 60% or less of the Area Median Income (AMI) as established by HUD.

The affordable units include 9 floating HOME units on the property and there are 35 Project-Based Vouchers from Fort Worth Housing Solutions. Also included in the unit count are 10 Section 811 units, 8 of which have 1 bedroom and 2 that have 2 bedrooms. Social services for the tenants of these units will be provided by a local nonprofit and supported by the Fort Worth Housing Finance Corporation.

 

This development has the potential to impact hundreds of families every year, helping their kids with involvement in nearby 

after-school activities, with a walking trail throughout the community, leading to destinations such as the YMCA as well as to Uplift Mighty. Uplift Education is a free, public, college-preparatory, charter school serving grades K-12. Uplift Mighty is located immediately adjacent to the site and residents of Columbia are given admissions priority. The community also offers onsite amenities, including a play area for kids, a clubhouse, a business center, and a library made available to residents.

 

Phase 2 of this development will include 120 affordable rental units specifically for seniors and Phase 3 of the development will add an additional 140 rental units. Additional housing typologies such as townhomes, garden homes, and single family homes will be constructed with future partners in Phases 4 and 5.

 

One of the community wellness components included an agreement with YMCA that provided funding through the City of Fort Worth, in which YMCA provides reduced fees for 50 households of the Columbia at Renaissance Square, including access to additional programs like after-school and summer programs, wellness programs, and more. Residents will also have access to the new aquatic center at the McDonald Southeast YMCA, located less than a block away from Columbia at Renaissance Square, which will be accessible to all City residents. Cook Children’s has been actively engaged to ensure access to health programs as well, saying “Becoming a part of the Purpose Built Communities Network offers us a unique opportunity to collaborate in a way that would not have been possible otherwise”.

 

Columbia at Renaissance Square is within walking distance to a stop provided by The T, Fort Worth’s public transportation system, as well as the proximity to local highways, Columbia at Renaissance Square affords residents the opportunity to be closer to work, reducing commute times and travel costs, leading to increased disposable income as well as time to enjoy the area attractions and activities.

 

Congratulations to FWHFC for their outstanding work on the Columbia at Renaissance Square development!

 

Does your organization have a success story to share? Email NALHFA Policy Director, Heather Voorman at hvoorman@nalhfa.org.

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