HC_letter by chrstphr


									                          CITIZENS ADVISORY COMMISSION ON HOUSING

                          One Courthouse Plaza 2100 Clarendon Blvd., Suite 700 Arlington, VA 22201
                          TEL 703.228.3760 FAX 70s.228.3834 www.arlingtonva.us

Melissa Bondi, Chairman

                                                                       March 19, 2007

                          Paul Ferguson, Chairman
                          Arlington County Board
                          2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 300
                          Arlington, VA 22201

                                                                                                RE: Buckingham Villages 1 & 3
                                                                                                (Item # 24 on the March 20, 2007
                                                                                                  County Board Meeting Agenda)

                          Dear Mr. Ferguson:

                          At its March 8, 2007 meeting, the Citizens Advisory Commission on Housing considered the
                          overall affordable housing proposal of the Paradigm Companies for Buckingham Villages 1 &
                          3, and an associated request for up to $7,000,000 in Affordable Housing Investment Funds. The
                          Commission received public testimony on the item.

                          To help organize the results of the Commission’s review, this letter is arranged into the
                          following major categories of discussion:

                                   1)   MOU and Community Preservation Committee
                                   2)   Village 1: 100 unit tax credit affordable housing program & AHIF request;
                                   3)   60 unit Committed Affordable Non Tax-credit Unit program;
                                   4)   Village 3: 140+ unit housing and home ownership program;
                                   5)   Additional Tenant Issues

                          In addition, two documents referenced in this letter are included in the Commission’s
                          transmittal: the March 8, 2007 interim report of the Community Preservation Committee, and a
                          copy of the March 7 letter from BU-GATA to the Housing Commission

                          1) July 2006 MOU and Community Preservation Committee (CPC)

                          The Commission’s review was informed by the July 2006 Buckingham Villages Memorandum
                          of Understanding, and the March 8 interim report of the Community Preservation Committee,
                          whose work was defined to include affordable housing, tenant relocation and other specific
                          community preservation aspects of the proposal. Multiple Housing Commissioners participated
                          in CPC meetings and helped develop the overall housing and relocation proposals.
2) Village 1: 100 Unit Tax Credit Program & AHIF

The Commission reviewed the applicant’s request for up to $7,000,000 in AHIF loans, to help
underwrite 100 committed affordable housing rental units at 60% area median income. The
units would be located in a new, mixed-income building within Village 1. According to the
Paradigm phasing plan, this building would be constructed first, and could be completed as
early as 2009. The phasing plan limits the relocation to 76 households in Village 1 until this
mixed-income building is complete.

Commissioners appreciated that these units would be available within a new, fully ADA-
accessible and elevator building, among the first in Buckingham. It would also feature units
built out with universal design features, as well as supportive housing units for DHS clients and
other vulnerable residents within the community.

As well, the Affordable Housing Investment Fund request of up to $7,000,000 equates to
$70,000 per committed affordable unit, which is within the range of average per-unit AHIF
costs in recent projects. The 100 units, which feature a mix of one-bedroom and larger, family-
sized apartments, also would be committed for 50 years.

In response to Commissioners’ questions, Paradigm confirmed it would meet the March 9
deadline for submittal of its 9% state tax credit financing application to support these 100 units.
Paradigm explained that their proposal has been adjusted continually to increase its
competitiveness for the VHDA application pool.

Commissioners generally support the terms described in the March 8 staff report, including
draft AHIF conditions. The Commission does recommend that no fewer than five units be
dedicated to the County’s supportive housing program, as further described below.

3) Committed Affordable Non Tax-credit Unit Program (CANTU)

The Housing Commission spent a good deal of its time reviewing the CANTU provisions, and
strongly values the program as an integral part of the portfolio of committed affordable housing
for Buckingham Villages. The Commission felt that without a program to address this
identified tenant group, the fundamental goal of community preservation is truly at risk.

At the time of the Housing Commission hearing, the financing proposal for the CANTU
apartments had not been finalized. By definition, low-income housing tax credits would not be
available to help finance the cost of the program. Therefore, the Commission believes the
County should pursue a cost-effective, efficient financing package that addresses this critical
need for current Buckingham tenants. Alternative funding proposals have been considered by
CPC, as outlined in its report; Housing staff agree that additional financing options will be
investigated later this year.

The Commission considers the CANTU program a cornerstone of the affordable housing and
community preservation goals for Buckingham Villages. The Commission also recognizes the
work of the CPC in designing several valuable CANTU program priorities and details, as
outlined in the CPC report.

Commissioners look forward to helping pursue a viable County strategy to ensure 60 CANTU
apartments for current residents between 60-80% AMI, in a combined portfolio of on- and off-
site locations within the Buckingham community.

4) Village 3 Housing Program

The Commission heard from multiple public speakers and through the CPC that affordable
home ownership remains a high priority for Buckingham tenants.

The Commission has long supported efforts to secure additional home ownership, including
affordable ownership opportunities. The County’s Housing Goals and Targets include priorities
for home ownership creation (Goal #7) and for new committed affordable units in geographic
areas including Buckingham Villages (Goal #6.)

Further, the Commission’s October 24, 2006 recommendation on affordable condominium
sales in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor emphasized that any net sales proceeds be set aside to
assist in the preservation of Buckingham Village for affordable home ownership.

As part of its support for the overall Buckingham Villages proposal, the Commission
recognizes that additional time will be needed to pull together the financing package and other
provisions to ensure at least 140 units of committed affordable housing for Village 3. Paradigm
and Housing staff indicated that negotiations are moving forward to provide the County needed
additional time to secure such a package.

The Commission anticipates working with County staff and other stakeholders in the
development of an overall affordable housing program on Village 3, including the further
exploration and review of affordable home ownership opportunities.

5) Additional Tenant Issues

The Housing Commission brings the content of a BU-GATA letter to the Commission (dated
March 7, 2007) to the attention of the County Board for its further consideration. Many of the
issues identified in the letter overlap with the scope of the Community Preservation Committee
and the Tenant-Landlord Commission.


Overall, the Housing Commission finds that the affordable housing proposal on the
Buckingham Villages proposal as presented meets the stated MOU goals for achieving at least
300 units of committed affordable housing and a comprehensive approach to community

The Commission also finds that the proposal contributes significantly to the County’s Housing
Goals and Targets. The proposal includes a valuable combination of preservation of existing
units and new construction of ADA-accessible units; options for low- and moderate- income
rental housing in mixed-income buildings, as well as significant potential opportunities for
affordable home ownership; creation of committed affordable housing stock for current
residents with specialized needs, such as Supportive Housing, built-out units for persons with
disabilities; provisions to support housing choices for the elderly and families with school-aged
children; and variable unit sizes, locations, and phased relocation alternatives.

Following discussion of these identified issues and proposed benefits, the Housing

  - Expresses general support for the proposed housing plan in the Buckingham Villages 1 & 3
    site plan, as presented at the March 8 Housing Commission hearing;

  - Recommends that the County Board approve up to $7 million in Affordable Housing
    Investment Funds to support financing of the 100 tax-credit units in Village 1, as outlined
    and conditioned in the staff report of March 8, 2007, with one amendment:

              That between 5-10 units are provided to Department of Human Services’ clients
              (as otherwise described in Condition #7 in the draft AHIF report dated March 7,

  - Recognizes the critical importance of retaining current Buckingham Villages residents with
    incomes between 60-80% AMI to the stated MOU goals of community preservation and
    affordable housing; these residents do not qualify for tax-credit affordable units;

  - Recommends that the County Board direct the County Manager to find viable ways to
    achieve a committed affordable housing program for 60 additional non-tax credit units
    within the Buckingham community.

  - Strongly supports the continued pursuit of an affordable home ownership program on
    Village 3.

The Commission vote on this motion was 8-1-1-1. Members in support of the motion included
Ms. Bondi, Mr. Borthwick, Mr. Faberman, Mr. Goldstein, Mr. Leibson, Ms. Ray, Ms. Winters
and Mr. Withers. Mr. Wise opposed the motion, stating his support for the AHIF request for
100 tax credit units on Village 1, but expressing concern about the uncertainty in the program
details about the financial elements of the proposed housing package. Ms. Palerm abstained
from the vote, expressing her support for the overall proposal, but also her concern that explicit
support for the raised tenant-related issues was not included in the motion. Mr. Sloter was
present, and recused from the vote given his professional interest in the property.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Very truly yours,

Melissa M. Bondi

Attachments (2)

Cc:     Patrick Hope, President, Buckingham Community Civic Association
        Lois Athey, Executive Director, Buckingham-Gates Tenants’ Association
        Christian Dorsey, Chairman, Tenant-Landlord Commission
        Inta Malis, Chairman, Planning Commission
        Stan Sloter, President, Paradigm Companies
        Community Preservation Committee (by email distribution list)


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