The clearest loser in Metro’s emergency budget plan is the Barnes Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Some nonprofit developers were surprised to learn this month that they would not be receiving anticipated grants worth up to $2 million this year.
The mayor’s office is filling a budget hole by postponing $5 million in affordable housing grants. The administration insists it’ll still try to give out that money later, if possible.
The problem: Nonprofit housing developers often cobble together multiple sources of financing, so losing this one grant creates a domino effect.
City officials admit they didn’t calculate the total impact.
But the church-affiliated New Level Community Development Corporation is all too aware. The group had financing arranged that was contingent on its Barnes grant.
Director Kay Bowers says its “shovel-ready” $12–million project — 51 townhomes aimed at professions like teaching and firefighting — is now at risk.
“It would have been 200-plus people that we’re not going to get to house now. And that’s just our project,” Bowers told WPLN. “There’s significant negative consequences of this. It translates into the lives of hundreds of people, if not thousands.”
New Level CDC had already spent more than $24,000 on the land and pre-development work, Bowers said.
What’s worse, she said, the announcement about the postponed grants came at a Dec. 3 meeting when developers were expecting to hear final approval for their funds.
“The surprise factor was certainly there,” Bowers said.
Two additional organizations are feeling the pinch. The Rosemary, which is a collaboration of Pathway Lending, Friends Life and Trent Development Group, lost its grant. The grant for Woodbine Community Organization was reduced by 45%, according to the mayor’s office.
But there is still one hope for these groups.
Officials say a different nonprofit, The Housing Fund, is offering a no-interest loan to fill the gap. But that idea is still in talks. The organization could not immediately be reached on Thursday.
Metro Finance Director Kevin Crumbo told the Metro Council that he would be “delighted” to review the loan idea, which was provided to officials earlier this week.
Crumbo said cutting into affordable housing was not the administration’s first choice — and that city rules would require the restoration of those grants if the city finds sufficient money. Some organizations are receiving grants (details here).