Authority weighs options for housing

Published 10:05 pm Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority will have to wait until March of 2019 to apply for funding to revitalize their Cypress Manor and Parker Riddick housing.

SRHA consultant Jaime Bordenave detailed four different options to the Board of Commissioners at its Tuesday evening meeting.

Their options include rehabilitating all of the property, tearing it all down and doing new construction, a hybrid of rehab and construction or disposing of the properties altogether.

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“None of these solutions are easy, but there are two that are easier than others,” Bordenave said. “One is using the vouchers to relocate everybody and sell the property, and the other one that is somewhat easy is doing all rehab.”

The vouchers Bordenave mentioned are tenant protection vouchers, and their purpose is to ensure there is no displacement of low-income residents due to construction or loss of property.

While those are the easiest options Bordenave gave, none of the commissioners wanted to lose housing in Suffolk or to simply rehabilitate the facilities.

The other difficulty in any of the options is to obtain funding to complete these projects, but the best solution to funding the housing is to apply through the Virginia Housing Development Authority for its Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.

Within the tax credit application, the SRHA has three options — apply for 4-percent tax credit, apply for 9-percent tax credit or apply for both.

The 4-percent tax credit is used for rehabilitation of the public housing, and the 9-percent tax credit is used for demolition and new construction of public housing. There is the option to apply for both and do a mixture of rehab and new construction.

Doing the latter will make their application for the 9-percent tax credit more competitive to the VHDA, Bordenave said.

When public housing authorities apply for tax credits, they are evaluated on a point system, and the authorities receive bonus points for doing a mixture of rehab and new construction.

Points are awarded on a sliding scale, and Bordenave told the commissioners that they would most likely get the highest point value if they did a one-to-one ratio for rehabilitation and new construction.

According to Bordenave, it is extremely unlikely that the SRHA would be awarded the 9-percent tax credit for complete demolition and new construction. The program is too competitive, he said.

Other benefits of doing a mixture of rehabilitation and new construction have to do with the current and future residents of the public housing facility.

Currently, between both Parker Riddick and Cypress Manor, there are 206 units, and some of those units would still be available to live in during the construction. This means the SRHA wouldn’t have to supply many tenant protection vouchers.

The Board of Commissioners did not vote on a plan, but they will be doing so in the near future, according to Chairman Ben Fitzgerald.