Members of the Board of Supervisors’ finance committee on Tuesday forwarded to the Board of Supervisors updates to the county’s Affordable Multi-Family Housing Loan Program, which helps developers finance below-market-rent apartment buildings.
The changes could mean county taxpayer dollars go further in those projects.
The program is relatively new, first approved in July 2018 and revised a year later. In that time, it has funded seven loans, growing a portfolio of over $25 million in existing loans, funded from the county’s Housing Trust Fund.
It is one of several programs affordable housing developers use to piece together the financing for those projects, also including federal and state tax credits and grants. Among the proposed changes is raising the leverage ratio from 1:3 to 1:5—meaning for every dollar of county financing, the developer must show $5 in contributions from other sources.
County financing can also unlock other sources of funding—for example, according to a staff report to the finance committee, showing a commitment of local funding can help a developer score higher in their application for federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.
One proposed revision to the county’s loans would allow more opportunities each year for developers to apply, seeking to match the more frequent openings for Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, Virginia Housing bonds or Economic Development Authority bonds. That could give developers a better chance of assembling their financing package at the right time, and could also increase the number of developers applying for those loans, according to the county staff.
Another revision could encourage developers to plan for more Extremely Low Income units, and to include free broadband internet and other amenities. “Extremely Low Income” units serve families making 30% or less of the Area Median Income, currently $29,950 for an individual and $42,700 for a family of four. Developers would see their applications for loans scored more highly for including those features.
And another would give developers more flexibility on the value of the property, facing a real estate market that continues to tighten.
The county’s Housing Trust Fund currently has a balance of $18.3 million.