Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

January 24, 2014

Preserving Low-Income Housing

By David Reiss

NYC Mayor De Blasio announced an aggressive goal of producing and preserving 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next ten years. New York City will need to be as creative as possible to achieve this goal and will need to look to all of the resources that it has at its disposal to achieve it. Enterprise Community Partners released Preserving Housing Credit Investment: The State of Housing Credit Properties and Lessons Learned for the Extended Use Period. This report looks at important component of a preservation agenda: Low-Income Housing Tax Credit buildings that “reach the end of their initial 15-year compliance period.” (4) The report presents data about LIHTC buildings during the 15-year “extended use period” that follow the compliance period

and shares how some state and local housing agencies around the country are addressing the post-Year 15 Housing Credit properties. While the condition of the Housing Credit portfolio at Year 15 is strong, as properties age into a second 15-year period of rent restrictions and beyond, the ability for some of those properties to be able to afford to make improvements while maintaining affordability is clearly a challenge. Some of these local best practices point to solutions demonstrating programmatic and regulatory flexibility, new resources as well as resyndication where appropriate. (4)

Across the nation, roughly 100,000 units of housing age out of the initial compliance period each year, so we are talking about a lot of housing.  New York has a significant portion of that housing stock. While these properties are in pretty good condition overall, the report found that

very limited financing choices exist throughout the extended use period for properties with modest recapitalization or capital improvement needs. Currently, the best choice seems to be a resyndication with a new Housing Credit allocation. However, the use of Housing Credits to preserve and extend the affordability of existing affordable housing competes with other Housing Credit properties, including public housing revitalization and new projects (both as adaptive reuse of existing buildings and new construction). The Housing Credit was created to address affordable housing needs that the private market could not effectively serve. It incentivized a public-private partnership that includes affordability for 30 years. In order to preserve this inventory, more investment will be required. Ensuring the physical and economic stability of these assets through their extended use periods will require innovative uses of limited public subsidy by states and municipalities. (5)

New York City will certainly want to plan for the modest recapitalization of its LIHTC properties as part of its affordable housing strategy. And it will be better to plan for it now than pay too much for deferred maintenance down the line.

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