Little by little, more optimism seems to be creeping back into the aff ordable housing industry, and that cautious optimism can be seen throughout the pages of this issue.

It's been almost a year since President Barack Obama signed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which included the Tax Credit Assistance Program (TCAP) and the tax credit exchange to help jump-start the stalled low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) market and move shovel-ready projects forward.

We're hearing that more TCAP and exchange deals are starting to happen around the nation.

“Less than a year after the bill was signed, we've made a lot of progress and have seen a lot of positive momentum, particularly we've seen a jump in completed projects over the last few weeks,” Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan told AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE in early February. “As the weather begins to turn in parts of the country, we'll see even more projects being completed and money being disbursed.”

When reporting on a new farmworker deal in Polk County, Fla., that's going to begin construction this spring because of TCAP and exchange, I was told that Florida Housing Finance Corp. is in the process of closing on about 40 deals in the next couple of months, helping to create some muchneeded aff ordable housing that might not have happened without the stimulus funding.

In this issue, we take a closer look at how some of the stimulus dollars are being put to use one year later (see page 20).

Nonprofi t developer The Community Builders recently received $78.6 million in competitive Neighborhood Stabilization Program grants, and it plans to use those funds to spur economic development through 1,300 aff ordable to moderate multifamily housing units.

We also provide an up close look at two of the fi rst deals in the nation to close on their stimulus funding— Phipps Houses Group's Hobbs Court and The Ciena in Harlem, N.Y., and Community Housing Concepts, Inc.'s Denver Gardens preservation deal in Denver—and how the developers made those deals happen.

LIHTC syndicators also have hope and cautious optimism for a better 2010. In the magazine's annual yearend survey, about 76 percent of responding syndicators said they're more optimistic about the 9 percent LIHTC market this year, with one even saying 2010 will be a “year of recovery.”

It's still too soon to see if the tide has turned. There are still many unknowns that could aff ect the industry— the fate of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the possible extension of the exchange program, possible changes in the LIHTC program to bring back more investors.

Only time will tell. Until then, we should embrace all of the positives we are seeing in the industry.