LONG BEACH, CALIF.— LINC Housing Corp. has long been building affordable apartments throughout California, but the nonprofit developer is at work on its first for-sale housing development.
LINC plans to build 17 single-family homes for families earning between 60 percent and 120 percent of the area median income in Redding, Calif.
A combination of factors has played into this new move, including finding some sites that are more suitable for single-family homes. In addition, some cities feel they have enough rental properties and want for-sale housing, said Hunter L. Johnson, LINC president and CEO.
The risk can be greater with for-sale developments because of the perils that come if the homes do not sell. Many of the skills that LINC Housing has developed in building apartments, however, transfer to homeownership projects, especially the ability to assemble different financing pieces.
Johnson also sees for-sale homes contributing in their own way to the affordable rental market. If a household can move up from its affordable rental unit to homeownership, then an affordable apartment becomes available for another family, he said.
Traditionally a new construction developer, LINC is also looking more at buying and rehabilitating apartment buildings, both those at risk of losing their affordability and market-rate properties that can be turned into affordable developments.
“Clearly, we need to save what we have built,” Johnson said. “It is cost-effective to buy a unit in today’s market and do rehab on it.” He said a rough estimate is that buying and rehabbing a project costs about 75 percent of the amount needed to build a new development.
The nonprofit recently turned 230 market-rate apartments in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., into homes that are affordable to low-income families. The Pepperwood Apartments is the first transaction to be financed by Housing Partnership Securities, the nation’s first nonprofit-owned tax-exempt bond conduit. Johnson and Housing Partnership Network members worked for about three years to hammer out the details.
LINC Housing also is behind one of the most creative programs to get the word out about affordable housing. It has just completed its first year of its “Notes From the Housing Studio” podcasts, which feature discussions with notable guest speakers. Topics have included green building, inclusionary housing, and housing policy. A second year of podcasts is planned.