Revised Processes Look to Improve and Enhance Housing Accessibility
Neighborhood Housing and Community Development has implemented newly revised application and review processes for affordable housing developers participating in the Rental Housing Development Assistance Program (RHDA) or Ownership Housing Development Assistance Programs (OHDA, a.k.a., Acquisition and Development).
“NHCD staff collected input from the affordable housing community, including nearly 40 suggestions from developers, nonprofits, advocacy groups, and individual citizens,” said James May, a community development manager for NHCD. “Some addressed procedural questions or program misconceptions that we were able to clarify and correct.”
Both programs are important to affordable housing in Austin. The RHDA program expands the construction of affordable rental housing for low-income households and increases the availability of permanent supportive housing for persons experiencing homelessness or with special needs, while the OHDA program funds private and nonprofit developers, including Community Housing Development Organizations (CHDOs), to acquire, rehabilitate, and construct affordable ownership housing for low- to moderate-income homebuyers.
Project applications can be submitted at any time, and will be reviewed quarterly.
Applications should be detailed as to all stages of the development process, so the City’s Austin Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) Board can consider the entirety of the project. Subsequent requests for additional funding must be submitted and reviewed as separate applications; if funded, existing loan agreements will be modified and amended as necessary.
New procedures for granting deferred, forgivable loans will help AHFC direct funds where they will be most effective. This includes expanding the definition of a developer in “good standing” to include consideration of prior code violations, instances of being a party to lawsuits brought by cities or non-profits, and past treatment of tenants.
Compliance and monitoring requirements have been amended to explicitly state that a violation of the guidelines constitutes a violation of the loan agreement.
May said some of the suggested changes will require additional study and consideration over the next several months. These include recommendations to further clarify the Reentry Roundtable Guidelines for tenant selection processes, expanding workforce protections, and prioritizing proposals that address homelessness, serve veterans, receive neighborhood support, or include sustainable building practices.
“We intend to address all comments in the coming months and, where necessary, revise the guidelines for both programs before the end of the fiscal year,” May said.
“As we continue to review and respond to these issues we look forward to working with the public, advocacy groups, and our development partners to ensure funds entrusted to us are used efficiently and bring the greatest benefit to the City of Austin and all residents,” May said.