Community Development Block Grant
Boise, ID - Mayor H. Brent Coles
Oak Park Village Development
In the late 1980s, Boise and the surrounding area began to grow dramatically. Home to just over 100,000 people in 1980, it had 126,000 residents by 1990, and most current estimates put the City's size at 168,000 residents. This growth put significant strains on individuals and infrastructure. The cost of housing skyrocketed: In 1980, a family in Boise making 65 percent of median income could qualify to buy an average home. To qualify in 1990, that same family needed to earn more than 100 percent of the median income. Many families are paying more than 50 percent of their monthly income for rent.
In 1993, Mayor Brent Coles formed a Mayor's Task Force on Affordable Housing to study barriers to affordable housing and recruited a major apartment developer to chair it. The Task Force determined that the best way to identify barriers to affordable housing would be to construct an actual housing project. A not-for-profit corporation, the Boise Housing Corporation, was formed to act as the developer. The availability of CDBG funds provided the catalyst for the project and made it a reality.
The result is Oak Park Village, a mixed income apartment and townhouse project with 200 apartments, 154 of which are rented to families earning between 30 and 60 percent of median income. The balance of the apartments are rented at market rate. Oak Park Village residents pay between $178 and $800 per month, depending on their income. The project also includes 43 townhouses, 38 of which are eligible for purchase by working families under the Affordable Home Ownership Program, another City initiative made possible by CDBG. The Oak Park complex also includes amenities such as a clubhouse, pool, children's play facility, and on-site business center.
Boise used CDBG funds to purchase the land at approximately 50 percent of its market value. The remaining value was given to the seller in the form of a tax write-off. A portion of the site was zoned commercial and sold to a private developer to help reduce apartment rental rates. Under a creative financing plan, tax anticipation notes paid for the purchase of 17 acres for the project until the CDBG funds became available.
A consortium of lending institutions provided a construction loan to the Idaho Housing Agency at lower-than-market rate in exchange for a tax write-off. The Agency then provided construction financing to the Boise Housing Corporation at two percent below the prime interest rate. Legal fees and development costs for the project were donated and architectural costs were held to only one percent of construction costs.
Possible opposition to the project was minimized by meeting early in the process with neighbors to hear their concerns and show them how the Oak Park development would benefit the neighborhood. This approach was so successful that the neighborhood now holds association meetings at Oak Park and has collaborated with Oak Park to create a neighborhood community center there. The Boise Parks and Recreation Department and Boise Police Department provide services at the community center as well.
Because concern about the appearance of affordable housing is often the source of complaints by neighbors, close attention was given to design and to producing housing that was aesthetically comparable to projects on the private market, and care is taken to ensure that the complex is well managed and that the grounds are well kept.
CDBG funding, combined with HOME funding, a Federal Home Loan Bank grant, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, and extensive participation by the private sector made Oak Park Village a reality. Mixing income levels in Oak Park Village has enabled the City to help finance a project that pays for itself while avoiding the appearance, maintenance and other problems that some affordable housing projects have created in the past.
Contact: Suzanne Burton, Office of the Mayor, (208) 384-4422
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright ©1999, U.S. Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.