WASHINGTON, D.C.—Green building used to give applications an edge in the competition for funding here. Now it’s mandatory.
Projects that compete to win lowincome housing tax credits (LIHTCs) in the District of Columbia in 2008 will have to meet the Green Communities Standards set by Enterprise Community Partners, according to the Green Building Act of 2006, a law passed by D.C.’s city council.
Green Communities requires applications for new construction projects to meet federal Energy Star standards, according to the District of Columbia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Rehab projects will need complete energy evaluations. Applications will also have to fulfill a number of optional criteria ranging from the inclusion of photovoltaic panels to proximity to mass transit.
The standards are part of an overhaul of the district’s competition for 2008 LIHTCs.
"We are trying to incorporate some best practices from other competitions," said Najuma Thorpe, spokesperson for DHCD.
DHCD allocated its 2007 LIHTCs in late 2006, and has taken much of this year to revise its qualified allocation plan (QAP) for the 2008 program, Thorpe said. Officials plan to finalize the QAP by early 2008.
Few details are now available. However, in addition to the green criteria, the 2008 competition will include a new scoring system, Thorpe said. DHCD tried a 100-point system in its November 2007 request for proposals (RFP) for the district’s Housing Production Trust Fund and other housing programs. That’s a big change from the old 180-point competition for the agency’s housing programs, including LIHTCs.
In addition to 100 basic points, applications in the November 2007 RFP can win bonus points for including green building features not already required under Green Communities, for being sponsored by a small minority-owned business, or for nonprofit participation on the development team.
Projects can also earn “geographic targeting” bonus points. “DHCD can make the most impact with its funding by concentrating on development,” said Thorpe. In several neighborhoods, DHCD’s investments have spurred private investment. In the Congress Heights neighborhood, public investment in housing and a multi-use community facility has drawn new businesses including a new Giant grocery store, restaurants, and shops to the area, Thorpe said.
DHCD has identified 20 places to focus its funding under a variety of programs including Great Streets, which aims to rebuild around commercial corridors. In addition, the agency has also defined two Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Areas: one at Georgia Avenue and the other around Langdon Terrace in the Ivy City/Trinidad neighborhood.
DHCD reserved $2.3 million in 2007 LIHTCs. Developers handed in applications as part of the city’s September 2006 RFP for $45 million in 2007 funding. That total included $37 million in gap financing from the district’s Housing Production Trust Fund, plus funds from the federal Community Development Block Grant program and the Home Investment Partnerships program.
Twenty-five projects applied through this combined application process. Of these, 23 projects met the department’s criteria and were selected for further underwriting, Thorpe said. Should all close their financing, they would create about 1,300 units of affordable housing.
The District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency (DCHFA) will use about $200 million of the district’s $256 million in tax-exempt bond volume cap to help finance affordable rental projects in 2008. The agency accepts applications throughout the year. DCHFA has requested another $50 million in bonds for its programs to help district residents become homeowners.
The agency expects high demand for the bonds as the condominium market cools and more condominium projects consider converting to mixed-income rental projects.
As of late October, DCHFA officials planned to use $118 million in 2007 taxexempt bond volume cap to finance seven projects, totaling 1,198 units. Most of the projects were 100 percent affordable.
“The agency is reviewing larger, mixed income, mixed use, and transit oriented development projects,” said Alison Ladd, associate executive director of DCHFA.
2008 LIHTC PROGRAM:
- 2008 LIHTC authority (est.): $2.3 million
- Application deadlines: Not available at press time
- Web: www.dhcd.dc.gov