This week, a diverse group of housing professionals has gathered at the National Housing & Rehabilitation Association’s (NH&RA) 2016 Public Housing Joint Venture Symposium at the Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida. According to Thom Admur, Executive Director of the organization, this is one of the best-attended NH&RA events to date, and all types of players in the affordable housing community have come together including representatives from HUD and many state agencies and local housing authorities.
While sessions covered a wide range of topics, including innovative approaches to HUD and historic preservation, the program has focused on the Rental Assistance Demonstration Project (RAD) through HUD.
RAD provides an opportunity for housing authorities to access private dollars profit developers to bring dollars the country’s many units of public housing. Sunia Zaterman, Executive Director of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, noted that there is $26 billion backlog in capital investment in public housing units across the country.
One takeaway from the symposium was that RAD is not a cure all for every public housing unit, but in certain cases it’s an affective way to combine public and private sources to preserve very important affordable stock. Another takeaway is clearly the need for bringing all the resources to bear for these important assets.
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Many of the country’s public housing complexes are more then 50 years old and are good candidates for the tax incentives such as the low-income and historic tax credits. Some housing authorities are partnering with for-profit developers to tap into these sources of funding. These properties are usually historically significant for the period in which they were built, typically in relation to important moments in local history, and how they were financed versus the buildings’ architectural character. In order to receive the historic tax credits, these types of narratives must be made to list the properties on the National Register of Historic Places.
The consensus is that the state of the market is good, which makes it clear that need for affordable housing is not lessening. As for historic tax credits, they continue to be a very important source of financing for the construction of new affordable and housing as well as the preservation of exiting affordable units. We appreciate NH&RA’s commitment to be an important voice for the affordable housing industry and advocates for historic preservation.