Nevada lawmakers passed several housing-related bills in the recently concluded legislative session, affecting such issues as construction defect claims, affordable housing development and evictions.
Here’s a look at some key new laws.
Four years after Republican lawmakers raised barriers to pursuing lawsuits alleging shoddy construction, the Democratic-controlled Legislature made the process easier.
Assembly Bill 421, which will take effect Oct. 1, lets homeowners report supposed construction defects in “reasonable” detail when submitting a notice to a builder or contractor. The previous law required “specific” detail with “exact” locations.
Among other changes, homeowners also have up to 10 years after the work in question was finished to pursue a claim. The previous law gave them six years.
Backed by attorneys, the measure rolled back provisions of the homebuilder-supported law from 2015, which cracked down on construction defect litigation a decade after Las Vegas’ wild building spree.
Ardea Canepa-Rotoli, a board member at the Nevada Justice Association, a lobbying group for lawyers, said last month that the 2015 law “restrained” homeowners’ rights.
Construction defect litigation is “significantly down” in Nevada, but “it’s not because magically there’s no more defects,” she said.
Lobbyist Nat Hodgson, chief executive of the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association, said Friday the bill’s final version “turned out a lot better” than its initial one. According to Hodgson, the measure was introduced as a “full repeal” of the 2015 law.
Hodgson said the biggest issue is the 10-year window for submitting construction defect claims. He contended the extended deadline will raise builders’ insurance costs.
Lawmakers gave the affordable housing market a boost with incentives that could help spark more projects for low-income Nevadans.
Senate Bill 103, which will take effect July 1, authorizes local governments to reduce certain fees for affordable housing projects. Senate Bill 448, which will fully kick in Jan. 1, lets the state issue $10 million in transferable tax credits annually for four years to help finance new projects.
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Nevada has a shortage of more than 73,000 affordable and available rental homes for “extremely low income” tenants.
In Nevada, most money for affordable housing projects comes from the federal government, and SB448 creates the first new source of state money for such projects since the early 1990s, said Eric Novak, founder of Reno-based Praxis Consulting Group.
Developers build about 1,000 units of affordable housing statewide each year, and state officials estimate the tax credits will increase production by 600 units, said Mike Shohet, chief real estate development officer at Las Vegas-based Nevada HAND, an affordable housing developer.
He said developers would sell the tax credits to investors and use the proceeds to help pay for projects.
Starting July 1, Senate Bill 151 will bolster protections for tenants by capping late fees at 5 percent of their regular rent and requiring more time to pass before a landlord can evict them for falling behind on their payments.
The law also gives tenants more time to thwart an impending eviction by paying their landlord up to seven business days after they were served an overdue-rent notice, compared to a maximum of five business days under the previous law.
An eviction notice “requires you to stop everything you’re doing to try to navigate this emergency,” said Bailey Bortolin, policy director with the Nevada Coalition of Legal Service Providers. “This new time frame will make sure the tenant has a weekend in there to figure out what their next step is.”
Landlords will also be required to allow an evicted tenant to retrieve essential belongings, like medication, for five days after they are locked out.
The measure faced heavy opposition from real estate organizations after portions of the dead Senate Bill 256 were amended into it in the final days of the Legislature. Those provisions included the late-fee cap and the five-day window to retrieve belongings.
Nevada Realtors President Keith Lynam said he and his members felt “hoodwinked” to see the SB256 provisions resurface after they had come to an agreement with lawmakers on SB151.
He said in a statement that the new law “will harm tenants and property owners” throughout the state and discourage Nevadans “from renting out their homes.”
Source:Las Vegas Review-Journal
2019 CHARLES L. EDSON TAX CREDIT EXCELLENCE AWARD PUBLIC HOUSING Winner Rose Gardens Senior Apartments, North Las Vegas, NV
The Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Awards recognize outstanding Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) developments across the nation at the forefront of creating stronger, healthier communities.
Source:The Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition
Several people dressed in a mix of coats, jackets and other warm clothing sought refuge underneath a white canopy as wind gusts whipped the surrounding area on a chilly Tuesday afternoon.
Councilman Oscar Delgado of Reno’s Ward 3 steps up to the podium and smiles at the crowd.
“Man, I love this weather,” Delgado said, earning laughs from the crowd.
Today, dirt and construction equipment fill the vacant lot across the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center. By spring of next year, a new 44-unit apartment complex will stand on this long-vacant piece of land on the corner of Sutro Street and Hillboro Avenue.
With more than 6,400 new apartment permits approved in Washoe County from 2016 to 2018, the 44 units that will make up the Willie J. Wynn Apartments — named after the late community leader who became the first African-American to serve in a cabinet-level position in Nevada — might not seem like a lot. This Reno Housing Authority project, however, helps fulfill a pressing need that the community continues to clamor for: affordable housing.
With only 21 affordable rental homes available for every 100 extremely low-income residents in the greater Reno metro area according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Gap Report, any addition to the market’s insufficient supply is seen as cause for celebration. The Reno Housing Authority, for example, was forced to close its waiting list for people seeking affordable housing assistance after it ballooned to about 3,000.
“This is a drop in the bucket,” said Brent Boynton, Reno Housing Authority Community outreach coordinator. “But we are always happy to celebrate any move in the right direction (for affordable housing).”
‘Helping people up’
Reno is in the midst of a rental crisis.
With strong demand putting constant pressure on the area’s apartment supply, average rents in the area — which broke the $1,300 mark early last year — are the highest they have ever been, according to data from real estate consulting firm Johnson Perkins Griffin. Even when adjusted for inflation, the number represents a 42 percent increase from early 2012.
The sharp spikes in average rent are hitting Reno’s most vulnerable populations especially hard. These include those at the lower end of the financial spectrum, many of whom are either living from paycheck to paycheck or on fixed incomes.
The Willie J. Wynn Apartments is a project born from the need to help those who are struggling the most from Reno’s worsening housing affordability crisis, according to its supporters.
“The city of Reno is booming,” Delgado said. “But not all families are feeling that.
“One of the great things about this project is that we’re helping people up.”
The apartment will include a mix of one- and two-bedroom units designed to accommodate seniors who want to age in place. Amenities include a community and service space, outdoor barbecue area and a dog park.
The apartment’s focus on seniors holds special meaning to the family members of the project’s namesake, Willie J. Wynn. In addition to holding a cabinet-level position under former Nevada Gov. Paul Laxalt, Wynn also served as a reverend. The site of the former Greater Harvest Church — which Wynn founded in 1966 — is right next to the apartment project. The old church building still stands, but is now owned by the Reno Housing Authority.
“My father loved Nevada and he loved this community,” Patricia Wynn-Tau said. “He vowed to help people from all walks of life and one thing he always wanted was to have affordable housing for seniors.”
A community responsibility?
Despite the great need for affordable housing in Reno-Sparks, getting a project done is tough in today’s environment.
The Willie J. Wynn Apartments, for example, is the first new housing project by the Reno Housing Authority in more than two decades, said Executive Director Amy Jones. The biggest challenge? That would be acquiring the requisite financing.
The housing authority's latest project required $13 million in total funding from multiple public and private sources. On the private sector side, Wells Fargo was mentioned as a major funder. Jacobs Entertainment also donated $1.5 million as part of a deal between the company and the Reno Housing Authority after it purchased several blocks of property downtown. One of those properties acquired by Jacobs include Reno Housing Authority land valued at $1 million.
CEO Jeff Jacobs says the Willie J. Wynn Apartments project “helps a little bit” but added that there is still a huge need for more affordable housing projects. One potential opportunity involves housing being planned for Jacobs’ downtown Neon Line District project, which was previously called the Fountain District.
“Between First Street and Sixth Street west of downtown to Keystone, there’s potential to create maybe 2,000 residential units,” Jacobs said. “I’d like to see if we can keep 10% of them as affordable senior (housing).”
Doing so could help diminish some of the criticism Jacobs Entertainment received after it demolished several of the motels that it purchased after its downtown acquisition spree. While the motels were in terrible shape, they also served as de facto affordable housing for the tenants who lived in those properties.
Jones of the Reno Housing Authority agreed that more needs to be done to address the great need for affordable housing in Reno-Sparks. With a waiting list in the thousands for affordable housing, including not just seniors but single parents and young children, even the Willie J. Wynn Apartments will not come close to filling the affordable housing gap when it opens next year.
Jones challenged other members of the community — whether it be public or private sector members — to do their part in becoming a solution to the problem.
“Forty-four units of affordable housing will not solve this problem,” Jones said. “Affordable housing is the work of our entire community.”
Source:Reno Gazzette Journal
The New Rose Gardens
It was standing room only for the dedication and ribbon cutting for Las Vegas’ newest affordable apartment complex, Rose Gardens on Jan. 25th. The new 120-unit senior housing development is operated by Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority and built and managed by Nevada HAND.
Remarks were given by several of the partner agencies that made the new development possible. Speakers included Mike Mullin, Founder and CEO of Nevada HAND; Chad Williams, Executive Director of Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority; Scott Black, Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority Commissioner and City of North Las Vegas Councilman; Lawrence Weekly, Clark County Commissioner and Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority Commissioner; Jacob LaRow, Nevada Housing Division Deputy Administrator; and Jim Haye, Neighborhood Services Coordinator for the City of North Las Vegas. Additionally, Robert Love, resident of Rose Gardens shared how special it felt to move into the new apartment. The event emcee was Mark Olson, chairman of the Board of Directors for Nevada HAND.
The new development broke ground 14 months ago and replaces the old Rose Gardens that sits across the street in North Las Vegas. Current residents were given the opportunity to move into the brand-new property if they so desired. The majority of the residents opted to move into the new four-story building with numerous amenities.
The community is comprised of spacious, energy-efficient one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments. Residents were asked their opinion about features they would like to see for the new complex. Residents expressed a desire to have outdoor access, which includes balconies for every unit. The building also includes spacious patios off of the common areas.
Other amenities include community rooms, a computer lab with brand new computers, a fitness room, billiards room, a library with plenty of books to read on the patio or indoors, courtyards with picnic areas, a dog park and an on-site coordinator. The building also includes a classroom for instructors to come on-site and teach training classes.
In addition to the Nevada Housing Division, other partners made the new development possible, including Citi Community Capital, City National Bank, City of North Las Vegas, Clark County, Enterprise Community Partners, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, PAZ Design Group, Praxis Consulting Group and EJP Consulting Group.
Source:Nevada Housing Division
Nearly a third of the households in the Truckee Meadows are considered either very low or extremely low income. That’s according to a report created by the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency in 2016. With housing prices continuing to climb, many of those residents are being pushed out of the area. Part of the problem is the lack of publicly subsidized, affordable housing. Reno Public Radio's Paul Boger reports.
It’s mid-afternoon in South Reno, and Dane Hillyard with Greenstreet Companies is walking through the construction site of one of his newest developments.
"So, you understand what this is, right?" Hillyard asks. "[It's] senior, affordable. It's 230 units. It's one and two-bedroom units; everything is in them. They have a full kitchen, washer and dryer and all that stuff in each unit."
If you’ve driven south on Interstate 580, you’ve probably seen the site – Vintage at the Crossing. It’s just one of the several multi-unit developments currently being built in the Truckee Meadows, and it looks like when it’s done, it’ll be pretty nice.
"What we try and do in the units -- these are going to be owned long-term -- so we spend more money on finishes than what you would typically see in an apartment that was going to be flipped and sold, so we have granite countertops, vinyl plank flooring."
But is it affordable?
Multi-family and other high-density dwellings have been popping up for the last few years. And yet, what makes this particular project a little more unique is that it’s meant to be affordable – like, truly affordable. For a one-bedroom, rent will be about $700 a month and $830 for a two bedroom – that’s roughly $400 or $500 a month below market value.
And how are they doing this?
Vintage at the Crossing is one of the first developments in Northern Nevada to receive bond money in more than a decade.
"It takes about a year to assemble the financing for these projects," says Eric Novak with Praxis Consulting, a company that helps developers build more publically-funded affordable housing projects. "It's located in what is called a difficult development area, which allows the project to boost its tax credit equity. The developers were specifically looking for a site that would have this boost in credits, and this was the first new construction bond project since 2004 in Northern Nevada, so it's a big deal."
He says many of the incentives are incredibly difficult to get. The federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit has been a driving force in the creation of new homes, but it’s capped annually, and bond projects have been nonexistent since 2004. And despite the credits that are available, rising costs of labor and materials outpace the incentives.
"On this project, we got $1.08 per credit," Novak explains. "The next project we did, we were down to $.94 per credit. These new programs come out that help bridge the gap and interest rates go up and we can't borrow as much money. The value of the tax credit goes down, so it's a constant struggle of trying to piece together financing for projects."
To make matters more difficult, most low-income projects are fueled by incentives provided by the federal government, but on the state level, there’s nothing. During the last legislative session, state lawmakers created a committee tasked with examining the state’s current housing crunch and coming up with strategies to address the issue.
"While we would love for the market to take care of everything, the truth of the matter is that 95 percent of affordable units are built with some sort of a tax credit program, typically federal," says Committee Chair Sen. Julia Ratti, a Democrat from Sparks. "Many other states have state-level tax credits. We are so far behind that I believe, personally, it's time that Nevada put some money on the table as well to build more affordable units."
But tax credits aren’t the only tools available to incentivize the construction of affordable housing projects. Cities and counties can also play a role by limiting fees and opening up land.
"Every day, I just talk to more and more people who say housing is their number one issue and it's just going to get worse," Ratti says.
The senator says that leaders can’t just talk about the issues in broad terms anymore because something needs to be done, sooner rather than later.
Open House and Dedication Ceremony at Patriot Place Apartments in Las Vegas, Nevada. Patriot Place Apartments is a 50 unit Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Apartment Community with preference given to qualifying U.S. Veterans. Patriot Place Apartments is own and managed by Accessible Space, Inc. (ASI).
Richard Sullo remembers his reaction when he saw his new apartment for the first time last September.
“I looked at this, and I thought, ‘Holy mackerel!’” he said while sitting on a couch in his one-bedroom unit next to Tazz, his Yorkshire terrier.
Sullo, 70, was one of the first people to move into Patriot Place Apartments, which celebrated its grand opening Thursday. The apartment complex on South Pecos Road in eastern Las Vegas serves renters with low incomes, but its mix of 50 one- and two-bedroom units are spacious with hardwood floors and new appliances.
“This is what happens when people come together and collaborate,” said Stephen Vander Schaaf, president and CEO of Accessible Space, which built the apartment complex.
Patriot Place Apartments cost about $14 million to build, but some $12 million of that came from Accessible Space selling federal tax credits it received from the Nevada Housing Division.
Having less debt on the project allowed the company to charge lower rents. Additionally, the Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs allocated the project 49 Housing Choice Vouchers to ensure residents pay no more than 30 percent of their income on rent.
As home prices and rental rates soar across Nevada, about 168,000 families in Clark County need assistance obtaining affordable housing, according to the state’s Annual Housing Progress Report.
Today, 44 of the apartments house a U.S. veteran, many of whom have physical disabilities. Thirteen residents were formerly homeless.
Sullo, an Air Force veteran who pays $311 a month in rent, said Patriot Place isn’t just putting an affordable roof over peoples’ heads. Once a month he hosts a poker night, and twice a month there’s guided meditation to help residents living with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“They have managed to make this a place where you can get involved and do stuff,” Sullo said.
Accessible Space soon hopes to break ground on an additional 48-unit affordable housing complex, Allegiance Apartments, less than a mile away later. Those units will likely fill up quickly, too; the wait list for Patriot Place Apartments is nearly 2,000 applications long.
“When you see thousands and thousands of applications, it tears your heart apart because it shows how great the need in our community is,” housing authority interim Executive Director Amparo Gamazo said. “This is why we’re here.
Source: Las Vegas Review Journal
"We owe these folks a debt,” says Nevada Rural Housing Authority (NRHA) Deputy Director Bill Brewer, speaking of the veterans who’ve found a home at Richard’s Crossing, an affordable housing complex in Carson City, NV. “And life gets a lot easier when you have a place to sleep, to eat, and shower. That’s just critical to have, before counseling, or job training, or whatever else folks may need.” Eight of the complex’s 39 units are reserved for veterans, but currently 15 of the residents, all of whom are supported by project-based vouchers, are veterans.
Rickie Yokum, a 68-year-old disabled Army veteran who served in the Vietnam War, had not been using many of the services available from the Veteran’s Administration, except for medical. “I’d go in there and think the other guys I see here, they need to go ahead of me.” But it’s because of the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) voucher program that he was able to secure one of the units reserved for formerly homeless veterans at Richard’s Crossing.
Rickie found himself with no place to live after discovering that the roommate he shared an apartment with in Carson City had not been paying the rent. He had just four days to find other accommodations. After tapping out his savings staying in a motel for six months, he found a card in his wallet for the local Veterans Resource Center (VRC), a private organization that fills a critical gap on the ground for an over-stretched VA. The VRC put him up for a while at a hotel, then suggested he apply for housing at Richard’s Crossing.
“It’s a secure place to live – that’s a big deal,” Rickie says. “I know what the next day, the next week, the next month, holds for me.” The stable, affordable housing situation at Richard’s Crossing helps him provide support to his girlfriend, who’s battling breast cancer. “We’re not rich, but we don’t have to eat Top Ramen every day of the week.” And there’s room for Bumpers, the dog. Adopting Bumpers two and a half years ago is one of the better decisions he’s ever made, Rickie says.
Greg Robertson, 59, also has high hopes for how the housing stability at Richard’s Crossing might help him overcome some self-destructive tendencies. He served in the National Guard for 3 years, back in the 1980’s, in peacetime. But he didn’t have a lot of schooling and spent a lot of time bouncing around after his service. “I was in a tent down the street from here,” he says. “My MO is to build myself up, and then tear myself down. I’m hoping that by being here I can get over that, and be more stable.”
Anita Dollinger’s husband Phil, a Navy vet, is also contending with serious health issues and making frequent trips to the VA hospital in Reno. “We’ve been technically homeless for the last five years,” she says. “Our last hotel was old, dirty, bug-infested. We came here and took a tour and we were just amazed.” The couple is very appreciative of all the services and resources they are able to access at Richard’s Crossing as they consider the options for treating Phil’s heart issues.
But as far as Anita is concerned, the best and most surprising thing about moving into Richard’s Crossing was that their apartment came fully stocked. “Toaster, microwave, dishes, pots and pans, cleaning supplies!” she exclaims. “I don’t know who had the initiative to get this stuff for us.”
The “who” Anita is referring to is the Carson City community. The household supplies that mean so much to her arrived at the complex in the same way the property’s cozy second floor library got set up – on the initiative of members of the community who have taken it upon themselves to help. Heather Simola, Real Property Administrator for NRHA, explains that she went to Browser’s Corner, a used bookstore, prepared to buy books for the library, but didn’t have to spend any money there. “The next day the manager was here with boxes and boxes,” she says. “They just handle it. It’s that human part, a random act of kindness.” Someone from the shop visits regularly not just to replenish the stock, but to shelve and alphabetize the growing book collection.
Other community contributions include the framed photos that line the hallways, created and donated by a local high school photography class, plants donated by the school’s cooperative extension horticulture program, food for the pantry – not just for people but for pets, too – donated by shops. At Christmastime, local groups got together to provide Christmas stockings and a handmade quilt for every household. “One of my favorite things about this property is that we have had no NIMBYism at all, not one call from neighbors asking why we were putting this here,” says Bill Brewer. “It’s just remarkable how the community has adopted us.”
The community’s generosity is not lost on Rickie Hokum. “Being here makes me want to give something back, to help someone else out,” he says, “Because I’ve certainly gotten my fair share of help.” He’d like to work a little, but not full-time. Job training and other supportive services are offered at the property in collaboration with the local Friend in Service Helping organization.
Richard’s Crossing complex is the first project of its kind in rural Nevada, and received a $390,000 AHP grant through member Charles Schwab Bank. According to Beth Dunning, Business Administrator, Community Development Group at NRHA, the project was over budget because of high construction costs, and the AHP grant was critically important to helping them make up the deficit. “Charles Schwab Bank has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco,” said Michael Soloman, Vice President, Community Development Group. “We welcome the opportunity to support effective projects like Richards Crossing that address specific housing challenges in our community.”
Being able to serve veterans means a lot to everyone at NRHA, but especially to Scott Kelley, the organization’s PR director, who is also a veteran. “Veterans are a very proud group of people,” Scott says. “After some of the traumatic experiences they’ve had, it’s hard to come back into civilian life. We’re filling a need as much as we can, and that feels great.”
But Richard’s Crossing is not just for veterans. The need for safe, decent, affordable housing in Carson City is huge across the board. “We have a mom with two children, we have couples and singles, and there’s 2-year-old Bella, who plays the role of a surrogate grandchild for those who have none. Plus a gentleman with a wheel chair who just celebrated his 90th birthday – he was living in a van before he got here,” Heather says. “So we change all kinds of lives.”
Source: FHL Bank San Francisco
NV--Entire Senior Apartment Community to be Relocated--Groundbreaking for New Affordable Rose Gardens Senior Apartments in North Las Vegas
The 42-year-old Rose Gardens Senior Apartments and its 120 units are feeling their age and are in need of interior and exterior nips and tucks. Instead of continuous repairs or renovation, an entirely new Rose Gardens Senior Apartments – with more amenities and services – will be built with all 120 households to be relocated together in a new affordable apartment community across the street from their current North Las Vegas location.
This is the first project of its kind in Clark County with permanent resident relocation to new facilities compared with a few previous temporary relocations during the renovation. Rose Gardens is a Senior Public Housing Development of the Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority (SNRHA). The estimated $21 million cost to develop the new Rose Gardens affordable senior community is through the federal government’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) public-private partnership program.
"Our seniors at Rose Gardens are the heart and the history of our community, and we are so pleased they will soon have a new state-of-the-art campus to enjoy as we continue to focus on and revitalize the more mature parts of our community," said North Las Vegas Councilman Isaac Barron, whose Ward 1 covers the area. “This is an exciting day for the seniors who live in the Rose Gardens apartments. In just over a year, they’ll be living in new apartments across the street from their current location and will have access to even more services than they do now,” said Clark County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly, whose District D covers the area. “I’m thrilled that we at Clark County could help bring this project to fruition.”
To mark the beginning of construction of their new home, Rose Gardens residents were joined by project partners, managers and funders for a groundbreaking event today with remarks and a traditional turning-the-dirt ceremony at the 1731 Yale Street site. Participants included Councilman Barron; Commissioner Weekly; North Las Vegas Councilman Scott Black, Ward 3 and SNRHA board member; Tim Whitright, Nevada Housing Division deputy administrator; Amparo Gamazo, SNRHA interim executive director; Kristin Cooper, Clark County principal planner, Community Resources Management Division; Michael Mullin, Nevada HAND founder and CEO; and other Clark County, North Las Vegas, Nevada Division of Housing, Nevada HAND and SNRHA representatives.
SNRHA has chosen to partner with Nevada HAND (Housing And Neighborhood Development) and its affiliate company HAND Construction to manage and build the new Rose Gardens Senior Apartments. The nonprofit real estate development and management organization was formed in 1993 to improve the lives of low-income individuals, families and seniors in Southern Nevada through affordable housing solutions and supportive services.
Residents are expected to move into their new apartment homes in December 2018. There will be no cost to them for the move; and their rent, which includes utilities, is not expected to increase from the 30 percent of adjusted household income they pay.
“We’re excited to be involved in Rose Gardens with so many great partners and revitalization in North Las Vegas to give residents a brand new home and features and services they currently don’t have,” Mullin said. “This type of public-private partnership is the perfect complement for our mission at Nevada HAND for residents at our properties to reach their full potential by creating opportunities for them to live well through support of economic stability, wellness, education and community engagement.”
Residents are excited too. “We’ve all known about this and have been looking forward to it for some time. Everybody knows everybody here,” said St. Clair Haywood, Jr., president of the Rose Gardens Resident Council.
In addition to new apartments, residents will get more amenities and access to services that are standard at Nevada HAND’s 31 other local affordable family, senior and assisted living communities.
These include a computer lab with free high-speed internet, fitness center, theater room, music room, dog run, community gardens, BBQ/picnic facilities, gated parking, more secure building access, full-time property manager and on-site resident services with access to financial, supplemental nutrition, and public resources; volunteer and education opportunities; and social programs.
During construction, residents will remain in their existing apartments. Upon completion, SNRHA and Nevada HAND will work together to make the relocation process seamless. Coordination and support will cover relocation assistance and counseling, transportation and moving services, utility and service transfers, social and support services, and elderly and disability assistance.
The new Rose Gardens will have 102 one-bedroom apartments of about 723 square feet and 18 two-bedroom units with approximately 928 square feet. These are larger than the current units and have more storage space, a private exterior balcony and energy efficient upgrades such as Energy Star-certified appliances. Currently there are 60 studio apartments and 60 one-bedroom apartments.
The design of the new apartments follows Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) concepts and will result in lower energy costs at the complex. There also will be a recycling program.
Upon project completion, the existing 1632 Yale Street facilities will be demolished with future plans for the site to be determined.
About Nevada HAND
Nevada HAND (Housing and Neighborhood Development) was formed in 1993 to improve the lives of low-income individuals, families, and seniors in Southern Nevada through affordable housing solutions and supportive services. The mission-based nonprofit 501(c)(3) real estate development and management organization uses various funding strategies (government grants, programs, and philanthropy) to develop affordable communities and it provides on-site services to help residents’ economic capability, wellness, success in school, and community engagement, creating opportunities for residents to live well, and for neighborhoods to thrive. Nevada HAND has built and currently manages 31 apartment communities that are affordable to working families and seniors living on fixed incomes. More than 7,000 people throughout the Las Vegas metropolitan area live in Nevada HAND communities, including two of the only affordable assisted living facilities in Nevada providing 24-hour support to individuals needing a higher level of care. For information, visit www.nevadahand.org or call (702) 739-3345
Source: Nevada Business Magazine
There was no guarantee it would work, but two years after the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso (HACEP) started a pioneering use of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, HACEP reached a major milestone.
Phase I is done.
Nearly 1,600 public housing apartments were renovated through low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) equity and moved to Section 8 contracts. The full conversion of all 6,300 HACEP homes–which house about 6 percent of the El Paso, Texas, population–is on track.
“This has been a very difficult and exhilarating transformation,” said Gerald Cichon, chief executive officer (CEO) of HACEP. “We’re very satisfied with getting through the first phase because it’s proven the concept that we can do it financially and physically.”
On May 5, HACEP and its partners celebrated the official completion of the first phase of the largest RAD initiative in the United States: 1,590 apartments across 13 properties. In addition to the RAD development, two properties that included the reconstruction of 294 homes were concluded. The goal is to revitalize HACEP’s housing portfolio by 2020. There have already been 2,500 family moves, 500 jobs created and more than $550 million invested.
“We are protecting ourselves from [federal] budget downturns,” Cichon said. “Public housing will cease to exist in El Paso in 2020. The 14th-largest public housing agency in the nation will cease to have public housing in the next 2½ years.”
Nick Hoehn, a partner in Novogradac’s Austin, Texas, office, who worked on the transaction, sees this as a landmark. “HACEP and its partners took a new program and showed how it can work,” Hoehn said. “Their success is testament to their commitment and passion to housing. This development shows how RAD can be leverage through a public-private partnership, even on this large a scale.”
Road to the Start
Not long after HUD announced the RAD initiative in 2012, HACEP got on board.
“HACEP really went all in and submitted for its entire portfolio to be converted,” said William Teschke, director of Alden Capital Partners, syndicator of the LIHTCs to three investors, who combined to provide more than $76 million in equity for the rehabilitation. “They were awarded 10 percent of the first 60,000 units allocated nationally under RAD.”
The project was split into three tranches, with the first including 1,590 apartments. Hunt Companies–which included Alden Capital Partners at the time–became the co-developer and syndicator. Alden became independent of Hunt in 2015.
The RAD program was new for everyone.
“There were a lot of things,” said Robin Vaughn, president of public infrastructure capital markets at Hunt Companies. “We were pioneering and it was the largest RAD development that happened. It was the first for the lender, syndicator, housing authority, everyone.”
The biggest hurdle was relocating residents. The apartments were at 98 percent occupancy–and many residents were elderly, disabled or both.
“We had to move 1,590 households, some of them twice,” Teschke said. “HACEP had a really good relocation team. That was one of the most impressive things. They hired the right people and created their own software to handle the complexity of all the moves. Relocation is always one of the biggest questions and concerns for investors on a project like this, but HACEP was well-prepared to handle it on a large scale. They deserve kudos for that.”
Cichon said it wasn’t as simple as just moving people around. He cited such things as proximity to needed services and schools, residents who had caretaker relatives nearby and physical challenges with moving to a new property.
“Our biggest innovation was creating a customer service model that creates a list of vacancies and addresses, along with human need,” Cichon said. “We created our own software and had to gather information–schools, who in the family cooks, locations of bus routes and hospitals, occupied and unoccupied units and more. We had to create software surveys and overlays so we could put people in the right units. The logistics are significant. We couldn’t find any maps like that, other than natural disaster areas.”
There was also the challenge of fulfilling the requirements of the LIHTC and HUD programs.
“There are conflicting regulations with RAD and the tax credit program,” Vaughn said. “In public housing, residents have the right to return, regardless of income. But, LIHTC rules conflict with that [due to income restrictions]. You also have a situation where existing residents have accessibility needs, unit-size requirements–meaning the number of bedrooms and a right to return. In some instances, the LIHTC rules required us to change the bedroom mix of the accessible units. So the challenge becomes how to accommodate residents with a right to return when the unit size they require no longer exists at their property as an accessible unit.”
Despite those hurdles, the challenging preparations went off with few hiccups.
“There hasn’t been one complaint to city officials,” Cichon said. “And I’ve only handled a handful of complaints myself. The relocation team members have social service backgrounds, so from the resident perspective, it’s been very successful.”
Relocation wasn’t the only issue.
Teschke said talks with HUD were sometimes complicated. “Combining this many properties into one transaction was new for everyone. We had prepared one ground lease for all 1,590 units and then HUD asked us to do 13 [one for each property],” Teschke said. “There were just a lot of aspects that were difficult to navigate.”
And, there was a large number of people involved.
“The other thing that was important to us was the weekly conference calls,” Vaughn said. “That involved the whole team going over the status. There were sometimes 20 or 30 people: the lender, syndicator, architect, housing authority, contractor and more.”
The contractor was Moss and Associates, the architect was Fugleberg Koch, civil engineering was done by SLI and the ADA design was performed by Fokus on Architecture.
Completion of the first phase came with plenty of lessons.
“It’s great for everyone involved to now be able to say that the project has been successfully built,” Teschke said. “We’re all glad to have been a part of it. For Alden, having our name attached to this project helps position ourselves as a syndicator with RAD expertise and experience in structuring large and complex transactions.”
Vaughn said the process was complicated, the results good. “The final product looks as good as or better than expected,” Vaughn said.
In the RAD world, HACEP and its partners are rock stars.
“It’s not just calls here, it’s that when we go to industry events, we get swamped,” Cichon said. “We’ve probably had 20 housing authorities come out in the past 20 months to meet with our staff, maybe seven to 10 people at a time. And we also get a lot of phone calls.”
Some of the lessons for HACEP were unique to its role as a pioneer.
“You need to have partners that have either done it or are intuitive enough to come up with solutions,” Cichon said. “We had to find people who were innovative. That’s why Hunt and Alden were great. The other learning thing is the amount of touch and communication you need with the community.”
With the first phase complete, HACEP and its partners are shifting new-construction apartments into the RAD program and preparing to renovate the final 3,000 apartments in a phase that will run through 2020, create an additional 500 jobs and bring the investment to $1.3 billion.
Cichon said a change in how Texas awards LIHTCs played a big role.
“For the first 1,600, we had to wait until the tax credits are awarded in August to close. But they changed the state law to allow multiple closings during the year,” Cichon said. HACEP completed 25 tax credit closings in the first 24 months of the program and has six more due before the end of 2017.
The result is a new role for the agency.
“We took a government entity and reduced staff by 50 percent to operate efficiently–but we still have to meet the needs of our clients,” Cichon said. “We shifted to a lean organization that runs as lean as a private entity. That was a significant change, to reduce staff and change the mindset.”
That change will continue.
“In the next five years, [HACEP is] going to be a completely different business entity,” Cichon said. “Instead of being an agency that receives taxpayer funds to house low-income people, we’ll be a producer that provides housing on our own income stream without taxpayer assistance. Our plan is to grow in strength financially.”
The goal shifted, too.
“We’re trying to think about what we can do to have a positive economic impact on El Paso,” Cichon said, citing a 17-story high-rise building HACEP will renovate using historic tax credits as an example. “We want to take low-income housing to higher-opportunity areas, then allow us to be drivers of economic change. RAD is the journey, not the final product. The final product is you have money to innovate for opportunities. It stabilizes the housing problem and allows investment in the future.”
The pioneers of RAD are moving toward the next stage.