The future of New Haven Court, a 40-unit permanent supportive housing development proposed for Yuba City, is uncertain following the City Council’s decision last week to hold off on awarding a $600,000 loan that developers requested in order to be more competitive in seeking federal tax credits.
The project’s developers – the Regional Housing Authority and Pacific West Communities – were awarded $400,000 from the city earlier this year to help apply for low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) financing to help construct the affordable housing development. However, the submitted application wasn’t competitive enough for an award, with other projects in the region outscoring them due to having a higher amount of local government financing for leverage.
Ahead of the next round of LIHTC financing – applications due July 1 – the developers came back to the city asking to beef up the loan another $600,000 for a total of $1 million.
“The issue is not to close a financial gap, but rather to be more competitive against other projects in the region,” said Darin Gale, interim director of development aervices for the city, in a staff report. “Funding for affordable housing is scarce and very competitive, and in order to bring projects into the community, more leveraged financing is necessary per project.”
New Haven Court, proposed to be located at 448 Garden Highway, would include 40 units of permanent supportive housing with studios and one-bedroom apartments. It would include a unit for an on-site resident manager, as well as case management offices for individualized supportive services. Housing preferences would be given to homeless military veterans and other individuals experiencing homelessness and mental disabilities in the Yuba-Sutter area. It is estimated to cost roughly $11.3 million to construct.
In addition to the city’s earlier commitment of $400,000, the project has received financial commitments from both Yuba and Sutter counties (total of $2.6 million), the Sutter-Yuba Homeless Consortium ($450,000), the Regional Housing Authority (land value worth $560,000 and an annual operating budget of $234,000), and Yuba City Unified School District ($60,000 in fee waivers).
If awarded, the federal 9 percent LIHTC through the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee could provide up to roughly $9 million for the project, according to Gus Becerra, executive director of the Regional Housing Authority.
At their meeting on May 21, council members voted to table the discussion about the New Haven Court loan until they have a better understanding of how much of a fiscal responsibility the city will have in the region’s effort to build a temporary homeless shelter in Yuba City.
Before that happened, two council members – Grace Espindola and Manny Cardoza – expressed their support in moving forward with the additional deferred loan financing.
“I think this is an opportunity to really demonstrate the strength of this community,” Espindola said. “We want to be a model for the region to demonstrate that we want to help our homeless in a very compassionate but yet cooperative way regionally.”
The rest of the council seemed to be in agreement that the project would add needed affordable housing within the city, but the main concern raised was that it would be providing permanent housing options rather than addressing the city’s larger need of temporary housing for its homeless population. On top of that, there is only so much in the city’s coffers to cover the costs of such projects.
“We cannot effectively get them off the streets until we have that (temporary) shelter, or a shelter of some sort,” said Councilman Dave Shaw. “We’ve got to make sure we are poised and ready to do what’s right to fix that problem so that our law enforcement can actually, for lack of a better term, take back our city to where we can have commerce; to where people can walk and people aren’t getting woken up at 2 o’clock in the morning with people going through their trash. To me, that’s a priority.”
City officials, along with officials from around the Yuba-Sutter area, will meet on Friday to discuss plans to build a temporary shelter in Yuba City on Live Oak Boulevard where Sutter-Yuba Behavioral Health is currently located.
Following that, Yuba City Council members will return on June 4 to discuss whether or not to move forward with the additional deferred loan for the New Haven Court project.
Construction of the project is estimated take 12-14 months. If developers are successful in securing all of the needed funding, including the tax credits in the upcoming financing round, construction would begin as early as March 2020 and end in approximately April 2021.