City IDB Mulls Rehabilitation Project

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IDB mulls housing rehabilitation project

By JAY POWELL jpowell@c- dh.net

October 29, 2015 - 11:51pm

The Industrial Development Board (IDB) is considering the adoption of a program that would fund rehabilitation of the Columbia’s affordable housing, while creating new jobs and a better quality of life.

The rental assistance demonstration program (RAD) is a private financing program designed to bring private capitol funding to housing authorities to develop and extend the use of properties being used today.

The Columbia Housing and Redevelopment Corporation (CHRC) oversees five neighborhoods of affordable housing. repairs to things like asbestos, water lines, HVAC units, roofs and ways to enhance a property’s curb appeal.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity to rehab all of our apartments,” CHRC CEO Trent Ogilvie said. “This gives us the structure and the vehicle to get that project done.”

Housing authorities only receive about a third of their annual housing needs from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The RAD program would be in partnership with Lawler Wood Housing Partners (LHP), which CEO Alvin Nance said needs to be considered, otherwise the future for Columbia housing is only going to get worse as the federal dollars continue to shrink.

“With that continued decline in federal subsidies that are going to be provided to public housing authorities, HUD made the decision that they are not going to be able to provide enough capital dollars to address the aging housing stock that housing authorities have across this country,” Nance said. “What they came up with was the rental assistance demonstration program … which pretty much is a way for housing authorities to bring private capital into addressing the housing stock.”

Nance added how the service could provide repairs to things like asbestos, water lines, HVAC units, roofs and ways to enhance a property’s curb appeal.

The CHRC would need to enter into a long-term ground lease with the IDB in order for the partnership to take place. This would maintain the housing authority’s ownership of the properties, while allowing the IDB to handle the transaction of funds since it has to come through a for-profit entity, Nance added.

By rehabbing a home, it not only gives the CHRC an opportunity to sustain its existing housing stock, but would also create jobs and attract future clientele.

“(Ogilvie) has the opportunity to strengthen his waiting list, to attract different clientele that can live at this property,” Nance said. “It’s another way he can continue his income growth on that property, pay the staff that’s working on it. RAD is going to address the major issues.”

Nance warned that if the issues are not addressed, it could have a negative stemming effect and cause the entire neighborhood to decline, while also spending unnecessary tax dollars on city resources.

“Think of it like a cancer. The worse that property gets, the worse the neighborhood’s going to become because people that live close to the housing authority don’t want to live there because it’s declining and losing property values, and will continue to do so,” he said. “And for a local municipality, the costs will go up because police calls, fire and code enforcement will be more frequent there.”

A proposal to adopt the program could happen as early as January, but Nance said the first transaction of funds woul

not happen for at least a year. If adopted, Ogilvie said he hopes to invest between $35,000 and $40,000 per unit for rehabilitation, which for 296 units totals about $10.36 million.

“We had an independent contractor come out and look at all of the properties …. to establish what the critical anticipated needs are over a 20-year period of time,” Ogilvie said. “We’re going to have a much better product in the end as far as design and the look of our. We have five communities and every one is going to receive an improvement, everybody.”

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