This evening, SB 309, a bill that would end net metering and benefits for solar energy investment in the state unfortunately passed third reading in the Senate by a vote of 39-9. For coverage on our testimony in opposition to this measure, please read our blog coverage here.
On February 21, 2017, Steven Meyer, Executive Director of King Park Development Corporation, gave testimony before the Senate Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy in support of Senate Bill 559. Read his full testimony below. SB 559 creates parity across the state by providing a property tax exemption for affordable rental housing properties owned by charitable organizations. The Senate Committee voted unanimously to pass the bill but with the contingency of working with counties to determine the specific wording of the legislation.
Thank you, Chairman Hershman and members of the committee, for the opportunity to offer our support for SB 559 and provide some context for the importance of this legislation. I would like to recognize and applaud Senator Eckerty’s leadership on this bill and in speaking up for charitable affordable housing organizations throughout the state on an issue that requires urgent attention and action.
I am here as the Executive Director of King Park Development Corporation, a non-profit community development corporation that provides high-quality affordable housing in Indianapolis. I am also here as a board member of Prosperity Indiana, a network of 230 non-profit organizations, units of local government, and private companies dedicated to building stronger communities.
Mark referred to a trend we are seeing now take hold statewide: increased reports from non-profits that are selling off properties they used to rent to low-income families because they simply cannot afford to fight exemption appeals. In 2010, several non-profit housing providers in Marion County had our exemption revoked. Over the past five years, King Park spent over $40,000 in staff time, attorney’s fees, and forfeited property taxes to have the exemption reinstated. If it weren’t for new leadership at the Assessor’s Office, the dispute might still be ongoing.
But the uncertainty around non-profit property tax exemptions has other implications, as well. Affordable housing is developed and operates with razor thin margins. An unanticipated exemption revocation is certainly enough to move a project from black to red. The risk and uncertainty is enough to raise financing costs and, in some cases, prevent otherwise sound projects from moving forward. King Park is experiencing this right now. We are refinancing a project that we’ve operated since 2010. Before the bank would offer us financing, we were required to obtain a legal opinion about the certainty of our current tax exemption. In addition, the bank has allocated nearly half the operating reserve requirement to risk associated with the property tax uncertainty. For a 13 unit apartment building, uncertainty around property taxes lead to an additional $30,000 in financing costs.
The risk from uncertainty does not just affect the non-profits that develop and operate these projects and the banks that finance them, either. Much of my organization’s funding flows from the federal government, through the city, and into our projects. In fact, all 23 entitlement communities in Indiana rely on non-profits like ours and other members of Prosperity Indiana to deliver this housing. If a project were to fail, the entitlement city could be responsible for paying back the funds invested into the project. These projects are aimed at lessening the burden of government by providing needed affordable housing, but a failed project can actually cost local governments significantly. This bill is specifically aimed at making these projects more stable across the entire state.
That is why we enthusiastically support SB 559, a bill that offers guidance for assessors reviewing charitable purpose exemption claims. The measure is narrow in scope and carefully tailored to ensure that it is not introducing a broad new category of organizations that will be property tax exempt. Quite the opposite is true. SB 559, as amended, will ensure that ONLY non-profits that operate affordable rental housing units for low- and very-low income families will benefit from this clarification. This legislation would not affect tax credit developments, for example, since those projects are almost exclusively held in partnership with a for-profit company.
Parity and certainty across Indiana’s 92 counties is essential. Many assessors recognize and endorse these services as not only exempt, but an important tool in reducing reliance on emergency housing services. Unfortunately, my organization and the members of Prosperity Indiana have no way of knowing from county to county and assessor to assessor whether or not their clearly charitable purpose will be recognized for property tax exemption purposes. We believe that non-profits fulfilling their charitable missions should receive equal treatment for property tax exemptions, regardless of where they are located in the state.
I urge the Committee to pass this bill and thank you for your time today.
Steven Meyer is the Executive Director of King Park Development Corporation, non-profit community development corporation committed to improving housing, economic development, and quality of life in the King Park area of Indianapolis. He also serves on the board of directors of Prosperity Indiana. Steven was recently named to the Indianapolis Business Journal’s Forty under 40 class for 2017, in part due to his efforts to launch the Build Fund, a small business loan fund operated by King Park. Click here to read the full press release.
A very competitive program, only 25 percent of the Rental Housing Tax Credit (RHTC) projects submitted to the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA) in November were awarded in the funding round announced today. Among those awarded were eight Prosperity Indiana members with 10 approved projects that will receive a combined $7,568,601 in RHTCs. Awarded member projects include:
Biggs GC Bloomfield and Linton (Greene County)
Rehabilitation of 24 one bedroom units located in a senior apartment community in Bloomfield and the new construction of 8 new scattered site homes in Linton. Biggs TC Development was awarded $372,938 in RHTCs.
Biggs Housing Opps Decatur and Fort Wayne (Adams and Allen Counties)
Consists of the adaptive reuse of the historic Music House in downtown Decatur into 16 affordable artists lofts apartments, the rehabilitation of 48 existing Rural Development units in Decatur and the new construction of 25 single family lease purchase homes in Fort Wayne. Biggs TC Development was awarded $1,180,444 RHTCs.
Carpenter Court Apartments Evansville (Vanderburgh County)
Adaptive reuse of the former St. Joseph Catholic School building into a 45-unit apartment complex. Pioneer Development Services was awarded $709,409 RHTCs .
Garvin Lofts Evansville (Vanderburgh County)
Adaptive reuse of a vacant warehouse creating 27 units of housing targeting chronically homeless individuals, including 7 units set-aside for FUSE (frequent users system engagement) participants. ECHO Housing Corporation awarded $512,021 RHTCs and $810,000 in Housing Trust Fund funding.
Indianapolis (Marion County)
Located within the HUD-designated Promise Zone, this project will have 36 units. It will include the preservation/rehabilitation of project-based Section 8 units (32 units), the demolition of blighted homes for the new construction of lease purchase single family homes (2 units) and the adaptive reuse of a blighted non-residential building (2 units). The John H. Boner Community Center was awarded $585,165 RHTCs.
Plainfield (Hendricks County)
The redevelopment of a greyfield lot and an underused property for the new construction of 64 units. Keller Development was awarded $890,000 RHTCs.
Churubusco (Whitley County)
New construction of a 35-unit multi-family senior housing development. Keller Development was awarded $490,000 RHTCs.
Minnie Hartmann Center
Indianapolis (Marion County)
Adaptive reuse of the former Minnie Hartmann Elementary school and a new construction addition creating 64 affordable units for seniors. Near East Area Renewal was awarded $1,046,000 RHTCs and $500,000 Development Fund funding.
The Fieldhouse Apartments
Anderson (Madison County)
New Construction of 44 units of permanent supportive housing. BWI, LLC was awarded $1,083,424 RHTCs and $765,000 in Housing Trust Fund funding.
The Lofts at Leeson's
Elwood (Madison County)
Mix of 23 units of new construction on BEP lots and 23 units of adaptive reuse located in the Leeson's building. New Hope Services was awarded $699,200 RHTCs and $500,000 in Development Fund funding.
About the AwardsIHCDA acts as the housing credit agency for the State to administer, operate, and manage the allocation of the Internal Revenue Service Section 42 Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, also known as RHTC. The purpose of the RHTC is to incentivize private developers and investors to provide more affordable rental housing options. This is done through new construction, adaptive reuse and rehabilitation of existing structures.
With 62 applications received in November 2016 requesting just over $50.6 million in federal rental housing tax credits and just 16 projects selected to receive a combined $13.9 million in RHTCs, the RHTC program is highly competitive. IHCDA also received $23.2 million in supplemental IHCDA funding requests, for which $5.8 million in additional funding was awarded from the Development Fund, HOME and Housing Trust Fund. Prosperity Indiana members were awarded a combined $2,575,000 through the Development Fund and Housing Trust Fund. In all, the projects awarded today will provide over 700 additional units of affordable housing options for residents throughout Indiana.
Click here for a full list of awarded and denied applications.
Great news for Prosperity Indiana members! Today the Indiana Senate Public Policy Committee voted unanimously to advance SB 227, a bill that Prosperity Indiana members identified as a key priority and worked closely with Senator Jim Merritt to introduce. Read our hearing coverage and a summary of the bill on our blog post here: https://www.prosperityindiana.org/Blog/4643710. The bill will now advance to the full Senate for consideration.
Prosperity Indiana will offer seven training courses throughout 2017, underwritten by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. We are seeking proposals from individuals and organizations interested in developing training on the following topics:
Affordable Housing Development for Homeownership
Tentatively scheduled for July 25-26 in Indianapolis
Proposed content should provide an overview of strategies for affordable housing development for homeownership and include:
Tentatively scheduled for October 25-26 in Indianapolis
Proposed content should provide an overview of strategies for community engagement and include at least one of the following topics:
Note: Trainers may opt to submit a proposal for the full training, or for individual modules. If the proposal is for the full training, it should divide the content into modules as directed in the RFP.
Comprehensive Rural Development
Tentatively scheduled for September 13-14 in Indianapolis
Proposed content should address the interrelated issues of the following topics:
All proposals are due by March 22, 2017. If you have any questions regarding the RFP, please contact Rachel Mattingly at email@example.com or 317-454-8542.
Attend this Creative Placemaking Workshop in June, hosted by the Indiana Arts Commission.
June 8–9, 2017Indianapolis, IN
Creative placemaking describes an intentional and integrated role for the arts in place-based community planning and development bringing artists, arts organizations, and artistic activity into the suite of economic and community development strategies.
This high-energy day and a half-long workshop will introduce the practice of creative placemaking as a viable strategy for small and/or rural Indiana communities and neighborhoods. Sessions focus on practical ways to get started and how to make a meaningful impact and are led by artists and creative placemaking professionals from throughout Indiana and the Midwest.
Save the date to bring your team and explore how cultural assets and artists are positioned to help your community succeed!
Click here for more information and to register.
Registration: $50 per person, $45 per person for two or more registrants.
Why should Prosperity Indiana members attend?
Director of Capacity Building Rose Scovel says, “Our members approach placemaking from a variety of perspectives - creating opportunities for artists, making use of public space, engaging residents and visitors, and improving quality of life - this workshop will offer an opportunity for those new to placemaking and those with a strong sense of the topic to engage with others, learn from experts, and consider the CREATIVE aspect of placemaking.”
The National Development Council (NDC) is seeking a full-time Field Director for its East Regional Team (includes Indiana).
Field Directors deliver NDC’s core services, including technical assistance and capacity-building, to local governments and non-profit corporations. The position will require substantial travel. Ideal candidates embrace NDC’s mission and bring a sense of humor and passion to their work.
NDC’s work focuses on homes, jobs and community. Founded as a national nonprofit in 1969, NDC has worked for almost 50 years fulfilling its mission to increase the flow of capital for investment in low-income communities. NDC directs capital to support the development and preservation of affordable housing, the creation of jobs through training and small business lending and the advancement of livable communities through investment in social infrastructure.
Follow these links for more information on this opportunity and the full job description.
As we outlined in our introduction to this year’s session of the Indiana General Assembly, fighting back efforts to expand predatory lending in our state was identified as a top state policy priority for this year. Accordingly, Prosperity Indiana has been hard at work with other non-profit advocates to stop SB 245 from advancing in the Senate. Today, we are excited to announce that we were successful in killing off the bill, thanks in part to your engagement, responses to our action alert and Prosperity Indiana member testimony. Steve Hoffman, the President of the Prosperity Indiana Board and the President/CEO of Brightpoint, based in Fort Wayne, provided testimony opposed to the measure and shared client insights and details of the Community Loan Center his organization administers to reduce reliance on payday lending.
The bill was under consideration in the Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions committee and after testimony from advocacy organizations, members of the faith-based community, veterans, former payday borrowers, and a former payday lending employee, the bill ultimately died with a bipartisan vote of 4-5.
That vote was particularly critical considering an amendment was offered at the last minute that was billed as a less harmful version of the bill, but it still would have allowed a loan amount to $1750 for up to 18 months at an interest rate to 18% per month on the principal balance, which would work out to 216% APR, a harmful product for vulnerable consumers.
Below is the testimony provided by Kathleen Lara, Prosperity Indiana's Policy Director.
TESTIMONY REGARDING SB 245
KATHLEEN LARA, POLICY DIRECTOR
FEBRUARY 16, 2017
Thank you Chairman Holdman and Members of the Committee,
My name is Kathleen Lara and I am the Policy Director for Prosperity Indiana an organization that represents 230 non-profits, units of local government, private companies statewide dedicated to building stronger communities.
I wanted to start by taking a moment to express that we also appreciate that bill supporters tried to make improvements to the loan terms compared to the original bill and also that we respect the committee’s interest in trying to find ways to meet the needs of unbanked or under banked individuals and families, but we still feel SB 245 is the wrong approach.
You have already heard exactly how high-cost loans trap vulnerable consumers in debt cycles, but haven’t heard is how this more broadly affects community stability.
Our members are based in Hoosier cities and towns of all sizes focused exclusively on long-term community prosperity, helping low-income individuals and families attain economic sufficiency, break cycles of poverty, and address blight and foreclosures.
They are also organizations left to try and help consumers repair the financial damage left behind when they were inevitably unable to pay back these loans at exorbitant rates.
Our members watch payday lenders that are almost exclusively concentrated in low-income communities market their products as easy financial solutions and know that consumers seeking a last-resort hand up are instead likely to end in default or bankruptcy.
Our members watch these products drain $70 million in fees from the low-income communities they seek to support.
They know that the inability for households stuck in high-interest loan debt to pay expenses like rent, transportation, health care, and food directly correlates to the housing instability and foreclosures, bankruptcies, loss of local spending and accordingly, loss of local job creation they work hard to combat.
An expansion of high-cost lending without regard for a consumer’s reasonable ability to repay is not a true alternative; rather it is another dead end. Even under the amended bill, someone making $12k per year can qualify for $1000 end up paying pay close to $2500 in interest.
We are grateful for the conversation regarding the financial needs of low-income consumers, but we believe the utility assistance, home repair loans, financial literacy education and payday loan alternatives, such the Community Loan Center program Steve referenced, that are offered by our members are the kinds of programs that truly deserve investment and support.
We urge the committee members to instead focus on these solutions. Thank you for your time today.
By Suzanne Gunther, NACEDA, and Nina Arce, Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey
A lot great things are happening in New Jersey and we’re eager to share the tremendous accomplishments of NJ’s community development sector on the national stage. Join us for the largest gathering of community development professionals in the country at People & Places 2017. Mark your calendars for May 31-June 2 in Arlington, Virginia (minutes from DC and Reagan National Airport), this peer-learning event will bring together approximately 800 community development placemakers, partners and supporters from across the country.
Call for Presenters
Do you have a passion about the work you do? Have you helped orchestrate a successful state or local policy campaign? Do you want to share your strategies and tactics with community development professionals from around the country? If so, the People & Places 2017 steering committee invites you to propose a session to present at the most diverse and inclusive community development event in the nation. Some travel assistance is available for selected presenters. To submit a proposal for a workshops, panel, roundtable discussion, or TED-style talk, respond to the Call for Presenters by Friday, February 24.
People & Places 2017 is hosted by five national networks to inspire each other, strengthen our skills, unite our networks, and raise our voices on behalf of the communities we serve. The hosts are:
Today, Prosperity Indiana staff expressed support for SB 485, a measure that, if enacted, would provide for a new home modification loan pilot program to help homeowners in Lake, LaPorte and Porter Counties.
The program would allowing the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority to make zero interest or low interest loans low- and moderate-income individuals or families that include individuals with disabilities or individuals who have a child with disabilities to improve accessibility. Below is the testimony Prosperity Indiana's staff provided today in support of the measure.
TESTIMONY IN SUPPORT OF SB 485
KATHLEEN LARA, POLICY DIRECTOR
FEBRUARY 13, 2017
Chairman Grooms and members of the committee,
Thank you for the opportunity to speak this morning. My name is Kathleen Lara and I am the Policy Director for Prosperity Indiana, a network of 230 non-profit organizations, units of local government, private companies and institutions dedicated to building vibrant communities and resilient families.
Our member network is devoted to expanding economic opportunity and improving the quality of life in communities of all sizes throughout the state. That is why I come before you today in support of SB 485.
Our members know that while the economy has been improving overall, hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers still struggle to meet their basic needs such as housing, child care, food, transportation, and health care.
In fact the Out of Reach Report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition ranks Indiana 38th in the country for housing affordability. That is particularly true for families that include and individual with a disability, as our state has a deficit of safe, affordable and accessible housing. We have numerous member initiatives, including work with the Legacy Foundation in Lake County working to bolster efforts to address community development concerns, including housing affordability so we are encouraged by the introduction of this bill. We hope to work with Senator Melton to address some administrative concerns we have with regards to the structure of this bill, but believe this is an important measure that should move forward.
Thank you for your time today.