LIHTC a ‘Lifeline’ for these Vets

Filed in Councils & Committees, Multifamily by on August 4, 2017 0 Comments

VOA staff members Liliana Scales (left) and Jatrice Martel Gaiter pose with Jauwan Hall before his testimony.

Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome after two tours in Iraq and another in Afghanistan, Jauwan Hall was having a hard time making his way in civilian life.

He was lucky to connect with the Volunteers of America (VOA), the faith-based service organization that builds housing for seniors, veterans and the disabled as a way to provide needed job training and socialization services.

He moved into an apartment at Hope Manor II, a VOA property in Chicago, where VOA social workers, counselors and other specialists more than helped him get back on his feet. Hall enrolled in community college, transferred to DePaul University, and will start law school in the fall.

Hall shared his success story with congressional staffers earlier this year to highlight the importance of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit as the Senate considers the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act.

Developers of affordable housing know that LIHTC is the lifeline that pulls Hall and other vets and families out of a cycle of poverty and into jobs, economic independence and a more meaningful life.

hope manor

Hope Manor I, Chicago

Having the credit program, said VOA executive vice president for housing Patrick Sheridan, means that less money is needed for debt service and more money is freed up for programs that provide services.

LIHTC was created as part of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 as a more effective mechanism to produce affordable rental housing. It’s the most successful affordable rental housing production program in U.S. history.

LIHTC provides federal tax credits to developers for building income-restricted housing: Those individuals or corporations receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit which provides the motivation and facilitates the development of low-income housing.

Those tax credits provide the project with additional equity during the construction phase, which helps to make it less expensive to build and maintain an affordable apartment complex.

Since its inception, the LIHTC program has produced and financed more than 2.9 million affordable apartments. As LIHTC properties must generally remain affordable for 30 years or longer, they provide long-term rent stability for low-income households around the country.

VOA’s newest development on the grounds of a former hospital in Joliet, Ill., opened this summer as a 67-unit home for veterans and their families and includes playgrounds, community and training rooms and counseling space. The $19 million project was financed with the sale of $16 million in these important tax credits.

The Joliet Herald-News recently profiled one new resident who, with the money she saves on rent, is paying down her debts and providing a better life for her three children — in a home without rats or mice.

Not only do these projects help the residents who live there, “they can be transformative for the neighborhood,” Sheridan said. NAHB estimates that in a typical year, the LIHTC program supports 95,000 new full-time jobs, adds $7.1 billion to the economy and generates approximately $2.8 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue.

Hall’s VOA home, Hope Manor II, is in Englewood, one of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods. But now, Whole Foods has opened an “urban concept” store two blocks away and Hope Manor II’s children can attend a charter school right next door. Providing low-income housing and services “can be one of those things where if done right can turn around a neighborhood, or at least a pocket of the neighborhood,” Sheridan said.

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