Columbia Housing & Redevelopment Wins THDA Award

Columbia Housing and Redevelopment Corporation received an award by the Tennessee Housing Development Agency for innovation shown in the financing of its project to rehabilitate its 296 affordable housing units. The project is a public-private partnership between CHRC, Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation and LHP Capital, another Knoxville-based developer and manager of multi-family housing, with a primary focus on affordable housing. The project falls under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program.

This enables CHRC to leverage private debt and equity for its affordable housing stock. This allows money to go into the project quicker and allow for long-term preservation. THDA, along with a panel of judges, including members of the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, chose Columbia as the winner due to the creative and innovative ways CHRC was able to partner with multiple funding sources. THDA Executive Director Rick Perrey said the judges were so impressed, they planned to share the success story with other communities. “What really impressed our panel of judges was the financing structure you all had put together,” Perrey said. “We had never seen anything like that in Tennessee. In fact, our two out of state panelists said, ‘I’m taking this back to show this to people in my state,’ because this is a really neat way to do it without overly complicating it.”

The Innovation Round was created as part of THDA’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. THDA set aside up to $1.1 million in 9 percent tax credits for 2017 that otherwise would not have been funded in the competitive tax credit cycle. CHRC will receive $550,000 in credits, which are to be claimed annually fora period of 10 years, totaling $5.5 million. “We’ve talked for over a year about creating the Innovation Round as part of our tax credit program to see how, if there were things that hadn’t been done in Tennessee before, that would have a hard time competing in a regular tax credit program, but were also serving an important public service,” Perrey said. “One of the priorities that we have supported has been public housing authorities in Tennessee who do the heavy lifting when it comes to providing affordable housing to the lowest income of Tennesseans.”

CHRC Executive Director Trent Ogilvie said he felt confident that his team would come away the victor, because the finance structure submitted for consideration was highly unusual, but also a successful model. He attributed it to the work that has gone in finding multiple funding sources and creating a plan which would make the city’s housing units, some built in the 1960s, last 40 more years, or longer. “We are starting now with Phase 1 at Southern Hills and Creekside. This innovation award actually allows us to have the financing structure in place to help us complete those future developments where we can move them forward even faster,” Ogilvie said. “That is something we take great pride, because we know howimportant it is with the rising costs of rent and people needing assistance, that we’ve got to have good quality affordable housing that is safer for seniors, families and kids in this community.”