The Housing Authority of the City of Asheville has learned that it won’t get nearly $17 million of tax credit financing to support the planned redevelopment of the Lee Walker Heights public housing community — at least not this year.
The North Carolina Housing Finance Agency announced its 2016 housing tax credit awards on Monday. In Buncombe County, only the Perry Lane Apartments project, which will create 120 units of affordable rental housing in Arden, received funding through the program.
Since tax credit financing made up 52 percent of the total estimated cost of the first phase of the Lee Walker Heights redevelopment, the future of the project is uncertain. Asheville Assistant Director for Housing and Community Development Jeff Staudinger says the outcome of the current round of financing awards is disappointing.
“We are waiting to hear from the Housing Authority,” Staudinger comments. “So far, we don’t know whether our application is still viable for next year, if there are interim steps that can be taken or what we could do to make possible future applications more competitive.”
Since low income housing tax credits are the only source of federal funding for large-scale affordable housing development projects, Staudinger says, it’s not surprising that the process was highly competitive. Of 140 applicants statewide, 46 projects in 36 counties received funding for a total of 3,243 affordable housing units.
The project team, which includes the nonprofit Mountain Housing Opportunities as the development partner, told City Council on April 26, “The viability of the project depends on the competitive award of the LIHTC funds.” Council agreed to contribute $4.2 million to support the development of infrastructure like roads and utilities. The project would demolish 96 existing public housing units on an 11-acre site at the foot of Asheville’s South Slope. New infrastructure and 212 units of deeply affordable and market-rate housing with community spaces would replace the antiquated, barracks-style row houses.
Xpress has requested comment from the Housing Authority and Mountain Housing Opportunities. This story will be updated when additional information becomes available.