Dec
06
2019
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Infrastructure & Services

Home, Inc.— Senior housing rental project not funded, yet

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A proposed 54-unit affordable senior housing rental project in Yellow Springs has not been funded — yet.

Home, Inc. and its development partner, St. Mary Development Corporation, received word last week that they had not been awarded federal tax credits for the local senior apartment building, by far the largest project of its kind undertaken by Home, Inc.

The partners applied in February to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, or OHFA, for tax credits that would offset about $8 million of the project’s total cost of $10.5 million, according to Home, Inc. Executive Director Emily Seibel this week. The application was the first attempt in a process that many applicants undergo more than once before ultimately being funded, according to Seibel.

The partners plan to reapply next year.

“It’s not a setback, but a step in the process,” Seibel said. “We would have loved to receive funding in this round, but this is a long-term vision and we knew that the path to a successful application could require more than one try,” she added.

Wes Young, vice president of St. Mary Development Corporation, said this week that his group remains committed to the Yellow Springs project.

“We pursued the project in Yellow Springs because of the positive attributes of the village and the site, and because there’s a tremendous need to provide affordable senior housing in Yellow Springs,” Young said. “We plan to continue to pursue it as long as it lines up with [OHFA’s] requirements,” he added.

The federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit program funds about 90 percent of affordable housing developments across the country. The Ohio Housing Finance Agency administers that program in Ohio.

Home, Inc., in partnership with St. Mary, hopes to construct a 56,000-square-foot, four-story building with 54 apartments on 1.8 acres at the site of the former Wright State University medical clinic on Xenia Avenue. The building would be located at the rear of the property, behind the proposed new fire station and across from Friends Care Community.

The Village has rezoned the property as a Planned Unit Development, or PUD, to accommodate the project.

Seibel said that the recent funding decision “if anything, deepens our commitment” to developing larger-scale senior housing in Yellow Springs.

“We are passionate about our vision to provide community-oriented senior housing of scale in Yellow Springs. We have so much momentum now from individuals and organizations in the village,” she said.

Ninety-two applicants across Ohio sought a total of $80 million in tax credits from OHFA in the 2019 funding round. The agency made 34 awards totaling $28.5 million in credits.

The Yellow Springs senior housing project was one of 21 applications in its category, nine of which were funded, according to the OHFA website. One Greene County project in a different category, Hawthorn Landing Apartments in Fairborn, was awarded credits this year.

While Home, Inc.’s application received a perfect “base score,” it fell short in subsequent “tiebreaker” scoring rounds, according to Young of St. Mary Development Corporation. Scores in those rounds are typically tied to the project’s per-unit cost, he said. Many developers apply more than once to seek credits for a project.

“We were disappointed but not surprised. The process is extraordinarily competitive, and there’s room for only so many projects,” Young said.

St. Mary Development Corporation, a faith-based housing nonprofit, has been developing affordable housing since 1993, and has been awarded federal tax credits for 65 projects in nine states since that time, according to Young. Most of the group’s development work is in Ohio.

Separate from the Yellow Springs project, St. Mary was awarded tax credits for two of four Ohio-based projects for which it sought funding this year. The developer has previously been funded for applications it submitted more than once to the OHFA.

Seibel this week underscored the rigors of the agency’s application process.

“It’s a tough nut to crack, which is why many ultimately successful applications are not funded in the first round. It is common to not receive funding initially and to receive funding in a future round. We hope to move forward with a 2020 application,” she wrote in an email.

Young said it was too early to say what changes St. Mary and Home, Inc. might make to the project for next year’s application to the OHFA.

“We’ll take a look at layout and design and all the contributing factors,” he said.

The project’s four-story design, which some in the village have questioned for its large size, was favored by local seniors because it maximizes surrounding green space, according to Young. He acknowledged that three stories is a more typical height for such a project, and that a fourth story adds design costs.

The Ohio Housing Finance Agency will be releasing new qualification criteria for 2020 in the next few weeks. Once that new criteria is available, Home, Inc. will “roll up our sleeves and get to work,” Seibel said.

“It’s a step, not a defeat. And it will be all the more worth it when we succeed,” she said.

Contact: ahackett@ysnews.com

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