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More affordable housing in Palm Beach County? One plan would help military veterans.

South Florida Sun Sentinel - 12/5/2023

The Palm Beach County Commissioners will consider more affordable housing projects during a commission meeting Tuesday, another effort in a string of initiatives to provide opportunities to families amid a dire housing crisis.

One plan is called the Village of Valor, a 54-unit rental that would be in Palm Springs targeting residents who are considered veterans.

The other would offer 168 rental residences in Belle Glade, an area where, in some parts, poverty rates are still high.

Village of Valor

The first resolution going before the commission is the provision of $14.25 million in bonds by the county’s Housing Finance Authority to make possible the construction of a 54-unit multifamily rental development located near the intersection of Second Avenue North and Engle Road in the village of Palm Springs.

David Brandt, the executive director of the Housing Finance Authority, said the organization is a “conduit issuer of tax-exempt municipal bonds,” which means it lends money from bond purchasers to, in this case, the developers of affordable housing projects.

The Housing Finance Authority requires at least 40% of the units to be rented to families with household incomes not surpassing 60% of the area median income, or AMI.

This measure is the midpoint income distribution in a certain region; half of the households in that specific region make less than the median, and the other half of the households make more than the median income. For example, a family of four not exceeding 60% of the AMI would be bringing in about $58,000 a year.

The project is also expected to receive low-income housing tax credits, which would require 100% of the units to be rented to qualifying families, so it is likely the development will consist fully of affordable units.

County staff is recommending the commissioners adopt the resolution.

The Village of Valor is an initiative from the Faith Hope Love Charity intended primarily to provide safe, affordable housing to veterans, though this project would not be excluded to just those with a military background, Brandt said.

Calusa Pointe II

The other resolution going before the county involving the Housing Finance Authority is a provision of $27 million in bonds to build a 168-unit multifamily rental development called Calusa Pointe II in Belle Glade along the east side of South Main Street.

Like the Village of Valor project, the Housing Finance Authority requires at least 40% of the units to be rented out to families whose household incomes do not surpass 60% of the AMI. This project is also expected to receive low-income housing tax credit, making all 168 units affordable, too.

“In this case, both of these developers are going to set aside 100% of the units and meet that affordability requirement so they can get the lower income housing tax credit on 100% of the units,” Brandt said.

The Housing Finance Authority assists about one to three projects a year through bond financing, Brandt said.

“With the crazy increases in building costs and land acquisition costs, the size of the bond financing on a per unit basis is just escalating like crazy,” he said. “So for us to kind of try to line up as much private activity bond allocation as possible, it just gives us a better shot at being able to assist developers when they do come in.”

Brandt has no reason to believe the county would not approve the resolutions, but the process to attaining financing for projects such as these can be an uphill battle.

“I give kudos to developers who are willing to take the time and the effort to build something like that, especially given that there obviously are alternatives, you could do market rate multifamily housing, you could sell the property to a market rate developer,” he said. “So it’s encouraging that there still is an affordable housing development community out there that’s willing to put the time and the effort.”

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