Redevelopment That is More Than Just Building Up

A special contribution by NMTC Coalition Board Member, Shirley Boubert.

The holiday season is a time when our nation reflects on the bounty we have received over the last year, a time to express gratitude, and also a time to remember those who are less fortunate. Many DC families help serve meals and participate in fundraisers for people in need during the holiday season, many needs remain throughout the year. To help address these issues, the District of Columbia Housing Authority is working to finance community development projects that meet the needs of our city. One of the ways we are doing this is by employing the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC), which leverages private and public resources for a variety of projects in neighborhoods where access to capital is scarce. A great example of this work is the Conway Center, a new affordable housing, medical center, and job training facility being constructed on Benning Road, in partnership with SOME (So Others Might Eat), US Bank, which invested $7 million in equity raised from federal NMTCs, and other local partners like City First Bank, which provided an NMTC allocation to help with construction of the Conway Center.

Conway Center - NMTC

The SOME project, using federal NMTC financing, is a prime example of how redevelopment tools are being used east of the river to benefit the community as a whole—building up people and creating stronger community resources for all of our residents. In fact, this new development will provide homes to 200 homeless and very low-income families and individuals, treat more than 10,000 patients per year with medical and dental services, and train some 300 residents with marketable job skills.

The District of Columbia Housing Authority—which is dedicated to providing quality affordable housing to extremely low- through moderate-income households, fostering sustainable communities, and cultivating opportunities for residents to improve their lives— has won several New Markets Tax Credit allocations over the last few years and provided a NMTC allocation through its subsidiary DC Housing Enterprises to support the development of Conway Center.

The NMTC is a unique and flexible financial tool that allows local decision-makers to choose what types of projects would most benefit their community. It provides private investors with a modest federal tax credit for investments made in businesses or economic development projects in census tracts in which the poverty rate is at least 20 percent, or median family income does not exceed 80 percent of the area median.  Since it was enacted, the NMTC has helped create over 750,000 jobs nationwide and generated billions of dollars in private investments in projects and communities that likely would never have received injections of patient capital otherwise.

Unfortunately, the NMTC has been historically caught in congressional back-and-forth, with the credit only being authorized on a temporary basis. The NMTC most recently expired on December 31, 2014, after Congress passed a one-year, retroactive extension at the end of the 113th Congress. However, as a final act of the 114th Congress,  a five-year extension of the NMTC in the PATH Act was passed and signed into law by the President, which is the longest extension of the NMTC since it was implemented. As a result, community facilities like Conway Center will continue to have access to the capital needed to fill the financing gaps that many projects in low-income communities face.

While many areas of Washington, DC are thriving, ever-growing costs of living make it increasingly difficult for lower wage workers and the unemployed to cope with these challenges.  It is not possible for our community’s organizations to address the poverty and homelessness alone, but through thoughtful use of community development resources like the NMTC, we can start to make a difference, by growing job opportunities and training; increasing child care, education, healthcare and healthy food access, and creating more affordable, decent housing.

This holiday season, we are expressing our gratitude by recognizing the work being done by SOME—because we are stronger when we work together.  To find out more about So Others Might Eat and how to get involved with their efforts to serve those in need, please visit their website www.some.org.

Shirley Boubert is the NMTC Manager DC Housing Enterprises a Subsidiary of the District of Columbia Housing Authority.

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