Local housing officials cry foul over lack of state tax credits

2014-04-13T18:45:00Z 2014-04-13T23:33:10Z Local housing officials cry foul over lack of state tax creditsMatt Mikus matt.mikus@nwi.com, (219) 933-3241 nwitimes.com
April 13, 2014 6:45 pm  • 

Three affordable housing projects in Gary, East Chicago and Hammond missed the mark by a few points to receive tax credits, and local housing officials believe they're being ignored by state officials.

The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority released a list in February of 15 low-income rental housing projects across the state that qualified for a total of $12.1 million in tax credits.

"These tax credits are used for a variety of different affordable living projects," said Tom Dabertin, a board member for Hammond Housing Authority. "I find it absolutely amazing that no entity in Northwest Indiana received it this year or last year."

IHCDA spokeswoman Emily Duncan said the program is highly competitive.

"The numbers speak for themselves. We received 44 project applications totaling almost $36 million in credits, and awarded $12.1 million to 15 projects," Duncan said. "So, basically, the higher scores are the ones that receive the funding."

Each application is scored on a 200-point scale. Developers go through the application and provide their own score based on their project plans, looking at rent structure, use of durable and environmentally friendly materials, financing and market values, and development characteristics.

Once submitted, the IHCDA reviews the application and adjusts the score.

"They do a self score on what they think they qualify for, and we validate their scores," said Alan Rakowski, who heads the Rental Housing Tax Credit program at IHCDA. "Generally it's either right around the same amount or less on their score."

The process allows the department a way to justify each project objectively, Rakowski said.

"The entire state is on an even playing field here," he said.

The East Chicago project, named Main and Broadway Phase 1, requested $1.2 million in tax credits for 63 one- or two-bedroom units. It scored 144.

Comfort Villas Phase II, at 2100 Jefferson St. in Gary, requested $887,164 in credits for 48 units ranging from one to three bedrooms. It scored 60.25.

Flagstone Village project at 1402 173rd Street in Hammond requested $1.2 million in credits for 92 one- or two-bedroom units. It received a score of 132.5.

None of the three scored high enough to qualify. The lowest score to qualify this year was 148.5.

Michigan City qualified for $988,013 in tax credits to redevelop 44 units in Uptown Artist Lofts at 717 Franklin Street. It scored 159.5.

Even without receiving credits, projects still can move forward if they find investors willing to back them. But Dabertin said the tax credits help the projects get started.

"It's not like these projects are dead," Dabertin said, "but some of these projects have been waiting for two to three years."

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