Columbia Seeks Millions for Housing Renovations

Columbia’s affordable housing units could undergo a series of rehabilitations next year, which will not only increase the value, but ensure the city’s low-income families have a place to live. The Industrial Development Board met for the first time since October, when representatives from Lawler Wood Housing Partners introduced a new program that could help repair all of Columbia’s 296 affordable housing units. The rental assistance demonstration program is a private-financing program designed to bring capitol funding, which housing authorities use to develop and extend the life of their properties.

The board voted to adopt two limited-partnership resolutions to apply for the program, which Lawler Wood CEO Alvin Nance said is what is needed if the city hopes to be awarded the money in the end. About $10.36 million will be used to fund the project’s two phases in 2016 and 2017. “It’s the form they need from the city and the county to actually make this a reality for them at this point and time,” he said. The Columbia Housing and Redevelopment Corporation will partner with Lawler Wood to oversee the five neighborhoods of Creekside, Southern Hills, Oakwood, Northridge and the Northridge annex. The industrial development board will be named owner as part of a 20-year agreement, after which the property can be turned over to the private sector. It takes the property out of the traditional ownership of a housing authority and takes taxes off, allowing the IDB or another private entity to operate as a housing authority does, industrial board chairman Larry Wilmore said. “It’s my understanding that there is a buyback of some sort from Columbia Housing at the end of that 20-year term. Another part that is important for us to understand, I don’t want to say it’s rare, but there’s not a lot of these grants. It’s very difficult to qualify for these grants, which is really what you need to have to make the whole thing work.”

The adoption of the two resolutions does not mean the city automatically receives $10.36 million in tax credits for housing repairs. Last year, 85 cities applied to receive federal funding through RAD programs, but only 18 were awarded tax credits, Lawler Wood Senior Vice President Carr Hagan said. Columbia Housing also has an opportunity to apply for the Tennessee Housing and Development Agency’s “RAD set aside” program, which Nance said is specifically designed to set aside a portion of the tax credits available in the state for housing authorities who have received RAD approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“Hopefully, we would expect the opportunities and the chances to receive an award at that time, but you do have similar housing authorities in the state of Tennessee that have received RADS as well. That’s means there’s going to be competition,” Nance said. “The set aside program gives a housing authority an opportunity to compete against others, and that narrows the field a little bit in that respect.”

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Development board asks for $10.36M By: JAY POWELL jpowell@cdh.net December 15, 2015 - 11:52pm.

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