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WHEDA awards housing tax credits for Soldiers Home rehab

Five Milwaukee projects were awarded $3.3 Million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits by WHEDA, during an announcement on May 16 in front of Old Main on the Milwaukee VA grounds.

Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch today announced the award of more than $13.6 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) to fund affordable housing developments across Wisconsin. The tax credits, which are distributed by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), will move forward 26 developments that will create 1,367 units of affordable rental housing.

Lt. Governor Kleefisch made the announcement in Milwaukee at the future site of the National Soldiers Home Residences on the grounds of the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center. Just under $1.4 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits were awarded to the project that will renovate the “Old Main” Building into 72-one bedroom and 8 two-bedroom apartment units for veterans and their families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Onsite supportive services will be provided for veterans living at Soldiers Home.

“These critical tax credits are instrumental in building strong neighborhoods through the effective combination of affordable housing and economic development,” said Lt. Governor Kleefisch. “I’m especially thrilled that the Soldiers Home development will create stable housing for our outstanding veteran heroes.”

“I’m gratified at the ongoing devotion and commitment of Wisconsin’s development community to provide safe, quality housing options,” said WHEDA Executive Director Wyman Winston. “The tax credit program is one of the state’s most successful and effective public-private partnerships. The Soldiers Home project truly symbolizes the standard of excellence we see in all the awardees today.”

In addition to the renovation of “Old Main,” the “Headquarters” Building will be converted into single room occupancy units, which will provide housing for 14 homeless or at-risk veterans. Adjacent areas will be renovated into common kitchen, dining, community and living rooms. The historic post office on the first floor will be reused as supportive program offices. Community and activity areas for supportive services will be housed on the building’s ground level. Several duplexes on the grounds will also be restored for use as veteran housing.

“The Alexander Company is proud to have been chosen to rehabilitate these historic buildings, which are such a significant piece of the social fabric of Milwaukee, the State of Wisconsin, and the nation,” said Joe Alexander, President of the Alexander Group that is the project developer. “With the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program, our public-private partnership will be able to restore these buildings to their original purpose – the service of our nation’s veterans.”

Renovation of “Old Main” is expected to be complete by March 2019. The conversion of the “Headquarters” Building is expected to be complete by April 2019.

WHEDA has awarded more than $3.3 million to five Milwaukee developments: National Soldiers Home Residences ($1,396,561), Westlawn Renaissance III LLC ($1,009,508), Mill Road Library Redevelopment ($805,063), Century Building (a prior awardee that received an additional credit of $43,793), and 704 Place Apartments (a prior awardee that received an additional credit of $76,078).

WHEDA received 43 applications this year representing $25.48 million in requests, demonstrating the highly competitive nature of the federal tax credits. The tax credits will help finance affordable housing units in communities in Calumet, Dane, Dodge, Douglas, Grant, Iowa, Kenosha, La Crosse, Milwaukee Outagamie, Portage, Racine, Rock, Sauk, St. Croix, Winnebago, and Wood counties.

Tax credits are awarded over a ten-year-period through the federal housing tax credit program. The 2017 awarded tax credits are worth more than over $136 million over their 10-year lifespan. In exchange for receiving the tax credits, developers agree to reserve a portion of their housing units for low- and moderate-income households for at least 30 years. Remaining units are rented at market rates to seniors and families without income limits.

Tax credit developments must meet high design and operating standards. Criteria include strong management, excellent development quality, demonstrated market need, provision of services and amenities, proper local zoning and permits and service to households at various income levels.

“Low-Income Housing Tax Credits stimulate significant economic activity in Milwaukee and all across Wisconsin totaling millions of dollars,” said Winston. “The credits attract private equity capital for rental housing production of the highest quality standards.”

WHEDA has been the sole administrator for LIHTCs in Wisconsin since the federal program began in 1986. Since 1986 WHEDA has awarded nearly $342 million in LIHTCs resulting in the development and rehabilitation of more than 53,000 units of rental housing for low- to moderate- income families, seniors and persons with special needs.

For 45 years, WHEDA, as an independent state authority, has provided low-cost financing for housing and small business development in Wisconsin. Since 1972, WHEDA has financed more than 84,000 affordable rental units, helped more than 122,000 families purchase a home and made more than 29,000 small business and agricultural loan guarantees.

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