State announces grant for Lufkin senior housing

AUSTIN - Seeking to bring much-needed housing to the region in the wake of Hurricane Ike, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) has announced a funding award to a rental property in Lufkin that will offer an affordable rent to income eligible seniors while providing a boost to the local economy.

TDHCA will provide $958,535 in housing tax credits to private developers constructing the 80-unit Lufkin Pioneer Crossing for Seniors Apartments, a rental property that will feature rents affordable to older Texans earning up to 60 percent of the area median family income.

"Lufkin residents need no reminder that Hurricane Ike created a serious housing shortage throughout the entire region, and there is a real need for decent housing people can afford," noted Michael Gerber, TDHCA Executive Director. "Our goal is to provide attractive, high quality housing with an affordable rent while offering tenants the long-term benefits of a stable, secure home life. Pioneer Crossing for Seniors will make a significant and positive impact on the residents of Lufkin."

In addition to needed housing, the city is also expected to benefit from the economic stimulus of this award. Gerber cited a recent study by the National Association of Home Builders which shows that the one-year impact of a typical 100-unit property developed through housing tax credits includes 56 full-time construction jobs, $5.4 million in total wages and salaries, and $862,800 in taxes and other revenue to state and local governments.

This award was one of 74 TDHCA made through the 2009 Housing Tax Credit Program, the state's primary means of directing private capital toward the creation or retention of affordable rental housing. The tax credits provide private investors with a benefit used to offset a portion of their federal tax liability in exchange for the production of affordable rental housing.

Properties funded though the Housing Tax Credit Program must reserve specific numbers of units for income eligible tenants and cap rents at set levels to ensure affordability. TDHCA provides oversight authority for health, safety, and program compliance for up to 30 years to make certain developers maintain the program's high standards.

In addition to a reduced rent, most properties financed with tax credits also provide supportive services designed to foster self-sufficiency among young families or promote a healthy environment for older tenants. Examples typically include credit counseling, financial and computer literacy classes, and General Educational Development (GED) courses for younger adults; and transportation services, health screening, and nutrition programs for seniors.

TDHCA allocates federal tax credits each year through a highly competitive application process. The Department annually receives twice as many applications as it can finance, demonstrating the high demand for affordable rental housing. TDHCA estimates the 2009 credit allocation of $78.7 million will create approximately 7,000 affordable rental units statewide.