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More than $12.5M awarded for affordable housing units; projects in Bell, Edmonson, Garrard counties

Kentucky Housing Corporation (KHC) has been awarded more than $12.5 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits (Housing Credits) and other program resources to provide communities throughout Kentucky more affordable housing options.

KHC awards Housing Credits to developers annually through a competitive process. Housing Credits are tax incentives allocated by the Internal Revenue Service and are designed to increase the supply of quality, affordable rental housing by helping developers offset the costs of rental housing development for individuals with low to moderate income.

This year, KHC received 31 applications requesting more than $29 million in Housing Credits and was able to fund 14 projects with $12,518,147 of 2021 Housing Credits in conjunction with $1,240,000 of HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) and $840,000 of Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) funds. These funding awards will result in the preservation and creation of over 791 affordable housing units throughout the Commonwealth.

“Housing is a basic need that many Kentuckians feared they would lose in the last year, and projects like these 14 help ensure that this need will be met into the future,” said Winston Miller, executive director. “Our homes now serve many functions. They are offices, schools, telehealth waiting rooms, playgrounds and entertainment spaces, and they allowed us all to safely shelter in place and care for ourselves and our families. These 14 projects will expand affordable housing opportunities throughout the state, enabling people to find stable, secure homes in the communities they love.”

While resources for affordable housing can be sparse, KHC now offers dedicated money in its Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) that incentivizes innovative housing concepts in the Commonwealth. Three of the projects awarded achieve this objective.

“Many of these projects were concepts that developers had been exploring for a while, and now they have funding to make their ideas a reality,” said Tracy Thurston, managing director of multifamily programs. “Incorporating multiple partners and resources in the area, these projects strengthen the communities where they are located and improve the quality of life for the specific needs and populations they serve.”

RFW Apartments – The development will offer 24 units for sex trafficking survivors on a 53-acre farm in Garrard County. Residents will receive job training and other services as they “dream of what the future can hold,” said Ked Frank, president of Refuge for Women, which is partnering with Winterwood Inc. LLC on the project.

“On behalf of all of the people who are survivors, we are very thankful for this opportunity,” Frank said. “Their lives will be greatly impacted by this project. Research shows that 80 percent of the women in sex work would leave what they were doing if they have safe housing available. The more housing we can offer, the more women we can help. This will provide a safe place where we can work with them to rebuild their lives and future.”

For Winterwood, RFW Apartments is a special project, because it represents a cross collaboration of their corporate and personal philanthropic missions. Zach Worsham, vice president of Winterwood, began his professional career as an intern for Refuge for Women, exploring whether the organization could open a location in Las Vegas.

“We have been in affordable housing for more than 40 years, and with our LIHTC projects, we always try to partner with organizations that we have a passion for,” Worsham said. “People often take for granted having a safe, clean, affordable place to live. Stable housing is the basis for the rest of your life, and we want to provide that for these survivors. It is a completely unique project, because there is no one else in the country serving the needs of these survivors, especially to the level that Refuge for Women is doing.”

On the farm, Refuge for Women has created a social enterprise to employ the people they serve. Survivors make candles and leather goods that are sold online. Last year, the women worked more than 1,600 hours making products. The new residents will help in the shop.

Once built, the project will accept women from Kentucky as well as throughout the United States.

Cumberland River RHOAR Center – With 52 units in Bell County, the Cumberland River RHOAR Center will provide long-term housing for people recovering from substance abuse. Unlike some recovery programs in Kentucky, Cumberland River RHOAR will offer medically-assisted treatment as well as counseling for those suffering from mental or behavioral disorders.

“We are very enthusiastic about this project, because it provides holistic treatment,” said Garry Watkins, president of Wabuck Development Co. Inc. “We have always provided affordable housing to those in need, but projects like these go beyond simply improving people’s living conditions. This is life-saving.”

The goal is to help these residents become contributing members of the community, helping to increase the tax base, Watkins said. The project will also help reunify some families that were separated due to drug addiction. Of the 52 units, 12 will be two-bedroom apartments designated for families.

It also will have a crisis/detox shelter for those in need and separate building with a community room where residents can attend group meetings and vocational training and workforce rehabilitation from Southeastern Kentucky Community and Technical College.

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“When you try to accomplish something this big, there are a lot of agencies, a lot of partners helping you,” Watkins said. “In Bell County, there is a lot of unemployment, but also a shortage of skilled workers. Local employers are partnering with the community college to help the residents gain the skills they need to fill those open positions.”

Marion Manor – This 44-unit project addresses the critical shortage of safe, affordable housing for elderly residents in Edmonson County. In small counties, often there are few options for seniors, Watkins said. Wabuck is also developing Marion Manor, providing 20 one-bedroom and 24 two-bedroom units to qualifying seniors.

Using donated land and a 100,000-watt solar-powered generator, the project will keep rent and utility costs low for residents.

“Many senior residents live on Social Security, and one thing they cannot stand is when they have a period of cold weather that significantly increases their utility costs,” Watkins said. “Here, all of the utilities are included in their rent. We take out the highs and lows for them, so they have more stable expenses.”

It also is away to introduce green energy to a rural county. Wabuck has solar panels at its office, and Watkins said he has seen the cost savings on their utility expenses. Wabuck will install the solar generation system at no cost to the project and lease it to Marion Manor for $1 per year, with ownership transferring to the project after 15 years.

“We especially like helping people who cannot help themselves through our projects,” Watkins said. “A lot of elderly people have given their whole lives – to their children, to their communities. They have worked hard to help others, and they deserve a safe, decent, affordable place to live out their existence. Places like these give them the stability and socialization they need to live happily and independently.”

From Kentucky Housing Corporation

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