The Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI), a member of Prosperity Indiana, recently announced that it has been awarded a $125,000 “Communities Against Hate” rapid-response grant by the Open Society Foundations. This funding initiative was a national competition awarding a total of $3 million in funds nationwide.
“Although we are disheartened at the escalation of hate directed at Hoosiers in recent months, we are incredibly appreciative that the Open Society Foundations offered this opportunity and chose the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana for receipt of funds to attempt to confront this hate,” stated Amy Nelson, Executive Director of the FHCCI. “We look forward to using these needed funds to help those in our community take a stand against hate and provide needed resources and training.”
The Communities Against Hate rapid-response initiative aims to respond to what communities believe is of greatest value to support, protect, and empower those who are targets of hateful acts and rhetoric. The grants are awarded to organizations that are well positioned to provide an array of responses to acts of hate.
Click here to read the full press release and learn more about FHCCI's plans.
Today, the Senate voted to advance another critical Prosperity Indiana proposal, SB 154, a bill that address asset limits for SNAP benefits. While the bill was amended to increase the asset limit from it's current level of $2,250 to $10,000, instead of eliminated the test altogether, this still represents a significant improvement to help vulnerable Hoosiers in need of food assistance attain economic sufficiency. For more details on the bill, click here to read our blog coverage.
Today, the Senate approved SB 227, a bill Prosperity Indiana worked to introduce and shepherd to extend foreclosure counseling resources in the form of the foreclosure filing fee by a vote of 39-10. For details on the legislation and our advocacy, click here to read our blog post.
Today, the Senate voted to approve Prosperity Indiana's top legislative priority this session, SB 559, a bill to clarify charitable purpose to ensure non-profits providing affordable housing for low-income clients receive property tax exemption approval by a vote of 47-3. For more details on the bill and our advocacy, click here to read this blog post.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and Wells Fargo (WFC) recently announced the launch of the Resilient Communities grant program. Through a commitment from Wells Fargo of $10 million over the next four years, this new program will improve natural resources and enhance local capacity to help communities prepare for expected impacts associated with water quantity and quality issues, forest conservation challenges, and sea-level rise.
“We are pleased to be working with the experts at NFWF on this important, multi-year community resiliency program,” said Mary Wenzel, Director of Environmental Affairs at Wells Fargo. “Focusing on resiliency through conservation and capacity building helps communities minimize climate- and extreme-weather-related impacts while simultaneously improving community well-being and prospects for economic development.”
By enhancing and restoring wetlands, resilient shorelines, urban tree canopies, natural forests and healthy upstream watersheds, communities across the country can improve their residents’ quality of life, increase resilience, and support wildlife populations. The program places special emphasis on helping low- and moderate-income communities build capacity for resilience planning.
“Wells Fargo’s dedication to conservation and the long-term environmental health of local communities serves as the cornerstone of this public-private partnership designed to improve natural habitats and community resilience throughout the United States,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF.
Resilient Communities will accept applications and award five to 10 grants per year supporting the goals of the program. Proposals will be evaluated by their effectiveness in accomplishing regional goals and engaging low- and moderate-income communities. Applicants may submit a proposal through NFWF’s online system by March 30; awards for this program will be announced in fall 2017. For the 2017 round of applications, Resilient Communities grants will emphasize the interconnectedness of natural systems and community well-being by:
Using wetlands, coastal habitats and other ecosystems to alleviate future floods, storm events and sea level-rise in Eastern states
Sustaining water quantity and quality through enhanced natural infrastructure in the Central United States
Conserving healthy forests, managing wildfire fuels and restoring habitats for healthy forest ecosystems in Western states.
More information on the Resilient Communities program and partnership is available at www.nfwf.org/resilientcommunities.
About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.8 trillion in assets. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through 8,800 locations, 13,000 ATMs, the internet (wellsfargo.com) and mobile banking, and has offices in 36 countries to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With approximately 269,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 27 on Fortune’s 2016 rankings of America’s largest corporations. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Wells Fargo perspectives are also available at Wells Fargo Blogs and Wells Fargo Stories.
About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores our nation’s wildlife and habitats. Chartered by Congress in 1984, NFWF directs public conservation dollars to the most pressing environmental needs and matches those investments with private contributions. NFWF works with government, nonprofit and corporate partners to find solutions for the most intractable conservation challenges. Over the last three decades, NFWF has funded more than 4,500 organizations and committed more than $3.5 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.
Always seeking new ways to meet the needs of members and the community economic development field at large, Prosperity Indiana commissioned a theme song, Home, by Roustabout and launched a new podcast called Ways and Means. Already this year, we have released the following four podcasts:
Listen to the podcasts online at Libsyn. We also produced videos on the Carson hearing and Statehouse Day as well. The Carson video provides expanded content beyond what is included in the podcast. Subscribe to one or both to never miss an episode again.
The podcast is available on iTunes or Google Play. The videos are posted to our YouTube channel.
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.