Highlighted in the National Park Service’s fiscal 2017 report, New Orleans–based Renaissance Neighborhood Development Corp. transformed the Houma Elementary School in Houma, La., into 47 apartments and added 56 new apartments at the rear of the property. Completed in 2017, the mixed-income Academy Place development for seniors received crucial financing through federal and state historic tax credits. In addition, it received funding from low-income housing tax credits, Terrebonne Council on Aging, Volunteers of America, and private bank loans.
Michael Polumbo Photography Highlighted in the National Park Service’s fiscal 2017 report, New Orleans–based Renaissance Neighborhood Development Corp. transformed the Houma Elementary School in Houma, La., into 47 apartments and added 56 new apartments at the rear of the property. Completed in 2017, the mixed-income Academy Place development for seniors received crucial financing through federal and state historic tax credits. In addition, it received funding from low-income housing tax credits, Terrebonne Council on Aging, Volunteers of America, and private bank loans.

Over the past four decades, the federal historic tax credit program has spurred economic and community development, including housing for low- to moderate-income households, and revived historic landmarks in downtowns and neighborhoods across the nation.

In fiscal 2017 alone, the program—formally known as the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program—contributed over $12.2 billion in output of goods and services to the economy and added $6.2 billion in gross domestic product (GDP), according to Rutgers University’s Center for Urban Policy Research. Program-related investments also created approximately 107,000 jobs, including 38,000 in construction and 24,000 in manufacturing.

In addition, 6,803 low- and moderate-income housing units were added to the affordable housing stock in fiscal 2017. Half of the 1,035 certified historic rehab projects were located in low- and moderate-income areas and over 79% were in economically distressed areas, according to the Rutgers research.

The program is administered by the National Park Service and the Internal Revenue Service, in partnership with State Historic Preservation Offices. It provides a 20% federal tax credit to owners who undertake a substantial rehab of a historic building in a commercial or other income-producing use while adhering to stringent requirements to maintain the building’s historic character.

“Historic preservation tax incentives continue to drive investments in historic preservation and revitalize communities across the country,” said National Park Service deputy director P. Daniel Smith. “Over the past 40 years, this successful federal/state partnership has enabled the preservation and rehabilitation of more than 43,000 historic properties, while generating more than $144 billion in private investment along the way.”

The program has helped to bring back to life abandoned or underutilized churches, schools, factories, warehouses, apartments, offices, and other buildings since its start in 1978. Rutgers has estimated that 2.5 million jobs and $116 billion in income have been created and $158 billion has been contributed to the GDP. Of the 278,270 rehabilitated and 289,933 new housing units created over the past 40 years, 160,058 units have been targeted to low- and moderate-income households.