The California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) has launched a new loan program aimed at rehabbing and preserving affordable housing properties across the state.

While the state agency has long assisted in funding new construction and preservation projects, the Portfolio Preservation Loan Program is unique because it targets existing CalHFA-financed developments.

“The CalHFA portfolio is seasoned now and older, and we want to see those projects preserved and get new capital,” said Bob Deaner, director of multifamily programs at the agency.

The new program will be used in conjunction with the New Issue Bond Program (NIBP).  The state was able to convert some of its unused single-family housing NIBP money for use in multifamily deals. Deaner estimated having about $150 million through the NIBP program.

Created in 2009, NIBP has provided a shot in the arm for the industry, offering developers low rates and breathing new life into a stagnant bond market. The temporary federal program expires at the end of 2012, so CalHFA and other housing finance agencies will be busy closing deals this fall.

The new preservation loans will be credit-enhanced through the Federal Housing Administration’s Risk Sharing program and available to for-profit, nonprofit, and public agency sponsors on CalHFA multifamily loans that are beyond their 15-year low-income housing tax credit compliance period.

Loan amounts would be the lesser of 90 percent of restricted value or 80 percent of development costs or a minimum of 1.15x debt-service coverage ratio. Terms will be 17 years, with a 35-year amortization, Deaner said.

The interest rate isn’t known because it won’t be locked down until close to the release date. However, if rates stay where they are today, they will likely be in the 5.25 percent to 5.75 percent range, Deaner said.

Projects will have to undergo a “green physical needs assessment” to identify opportunities for increasing energy and water efficiencies through property improvements.

Over the years, CalHFA’s multifamily division has invested more than $2 billion for the construction and preservation of 36,000 affordable rental housing units assisting nearly 85,000 low-income residents in the state.

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