Five affordable housing projects for homeless veterans, seniors, and families will share nearly $2.9 million in federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) allocated by MaineHousing through a competitive selection process.
The tax credits will leverage approximately $26 million in private equity investment that will create or rehabilitate 221 affordable housing units in Chelsea, Falmouth, Bath, Sanford, and Portland.
One of the projects is Cabin in the Woods, a unique housing development project for veterans who are homeless and in need of services at Togus VA Medical Center in Chelsea.
Cabin in the Woods is not a traditional bricks-and-mortar housing development, according to June Koegel, chief executive officer of Volunteers of America Northern New England, the developer of the project. In partnership with the Veterans Administration, VOANNE secured a 75-year lease for 11 acres on the Togus site to develop what will look like a traditional Maine camp with a community center and 21 privately situated energy-efficient cabins for homeless veterans.
"The program will emphasize family reunification along with employment, and will work with the community and other agencies to meet the needs of veterans and their families,” Koegel said. “There are many veterans in Maine who need to be close to services at Togus but want to live in a more remote, quiet setting that Maine is known for. Cabin in the Woods will allow them to have a safe and wonderful home near services to help them on their road to independence and recovery. We are extremely grateful to MaineHousing, the Veterans Administration, and all of our partners who are helping to make this project a reality.”
MaineHousing Director John Gallagher said he is impressed by the tenacious effort put forth by the veterans groups and their partners to move the Cabin in the Woods project towards reality. VOANNE began this project in 2009.
“It is extremely gratifying as director of MaineHousing to be part of a creative solution to serve those with complex needs,” Gallagher said. “Volunteers of America Northern New England, the Veterans Administration, and others have not wavered from their goal of providing veterans who are homeless with a place to live that is close to VA services. Their effort is commendable and appreciated, and MaineHousing is proud to work with them.”
Along with the tax credits, the project will receive 16 Project-based Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing vouchers to help provide rental assistance.
Interest in the LIHTC program was high. Sixteen projects submitted applications requesting a combined $8.9 million in tax credits. The federal government allocates approximately $3 million in tax credits to Maine each year, and they are awarded through a federally required competitive scoring system called the Qualified Allocation Plan. This year’s selected LIHTC projects are:
Huse School Apartments: The Szanton Company will renovate the former John E.L. Huse Memorial School building, vacant since 2012, into 30 family rental units and will construct a 28-unit addition to the building. Forty-three of the units will be affordable (for households earning 50-60% of an area’s median income) and 15 will be market-rate apartments. Estimated construction cost is $7,303,000. Project will receive $646,840 in LIHTCs that will generate $7.4 million in private equity.
Cabin in the Woods: A 21-unit new construction project for homeless veterans near Togus VA Medical Center. Developer is Volunteers of America Northern New England. Estimated construction cost is $3,157,000. Project will receive $388,337 in LIHTCs that will generate $2.5 million in private equity.
Blackstone Apartments: Avesta Housing will acquire and rehabilitate 20 existing units and create 19 new units at 21 Squidere Lane for elderly tenants. Estimated construction cost is $3,272,000. Project will receive $300,000 in LIHTCs that will generate $3.3 million in private equity.
Carleton Street Apartments: Avesta Housing will construct 37 family housing units at 17 Carleton Street. Estimated construction cost is $4,615,000. Project will receive $581,270 in LIHTCs that will generate $4.9 million in private equity.
St. Ignatius Apartments: The Catholic Diocese of Maine will rehabilitate an existing three-story building plus construct another building to create 66 elderly housing units. DBH Management, Inc., is the project developer. Estimated construction cost is $7,904,000. Project will receive $937,712 in LIHTCs that will generate $8.3 million in private equity.