"2013 HOME Comment Letter Template"
Insert date here Mrs. Barbara Wallace Housing Credit/HOME Coordinator Alabama Housing Finance Authority Post Office Box 242967 Montgomery, AL 36124-2967 Provide a brief description of your agency here. We appreciate the opportunity to provide comments to the Alabama Housing Finance Authority’s (AHFA) 2013 HOME Action Plan. We recognize the extensive need to find decent, safe, and affordable housing for Alabamians who are considered low-income. It is our belief that every resident in Alabama deserves a safe and decent place to live. Your agency’s name here recommendations for the HOME program are as follows: 1. AHFA decouple Alabama HOME funds from the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program. Reason: There are nonprofit service providers throughout the state that would like to access HOME funds but are unable to do so because they want to develop smaller properties that better serve their clientele. These nonprofit service providers understand the housing and services need for individuals living with special needs and would be a logical choice to provide housing options for these hard-to-serve populations. However, costs associated with tax credit projects make smaller deals infeasible and, generally, tax credit investors are not interested in small properties. If AHFA decouples a portion of the HOME funds from the Tax Credit program, these nonprofit organizations could apply for funding and develop projects for populations they serve. Also, service providers could provide supportive services to ensure housing stability. 2. AHFA utilize Alabama HOME funds for activities other than new construction. Reason: The federal HOME program includes homeowner rehabilitation, homebuyer programs, rental rehabilitation, and rental subsidies for its eligible activities. Using HOME funds for new construction of rental properties only excludes many organizations that promote homeownership and rehabilitation activities from applying for funding. By expanding the state’s HOME eligible activities, funds could be used for more diverse purposes and this has the potential to improve blighted communities through rehabilitation and create more decent and safe housing opportunities for individuals with low incomes. 3. AHFA prioritize projects that provide permanent supportive housing. Reason: Special needs populations, including those living with mental illness and/or substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, those experiencing homelessness, and survivors of domestic violence, tend to be marginalized from mainstream housing resources and often need supportive services to maintain housing stability. Permanent supportive housing not only seeks to house these populations, but provides supportive services to ensure housing stability. Research has demonstrated that supportive housing saves money, as it costs less to house an individual and provide support by reducing the use of public services and the cost of spending time in jails, emergency rooms, and institutions. By prioritizing permanent supportive housing, AHFA would reduce the number of homeless individuals and families living in Alabama. We thank you for your consideration of this important matter. Should you have any questions or wish to discuss our comments further, please do not hesitate to give me a call. Sincerely,