Affordable Housing Committee Minutes

AFFORDABLE HOUSING COMMITTEE
Craig Bounds, Chairperson
Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Director David Staehling called the meeting to order and went over the proposed agenda.  There was a motion and second to accept minutes from the May 3rd meeting.

Old Business
Committee Reports:

Financial Assistance Program – Committee member James Crowell presented members with a copy of the Hurricane Supplemental Appropriations Bill passed by the Senate last week. The Bill included funding for Project-Based Vouchers in the amount of $100 million for renter assistance and other special needs.  We assume that these funds will come down through the Governor’s Homeowner Assistance Program (via Mississippi Development Authority).  Committee members will call Congressman and asked for their support of the Bill.

  • Biloxi Housing Authority – Delmar Robinson and Bobby Hensley reported that BHA had received construction bids on HOPE VI.  Bids have been evaluated, selected and a contract has been awarded.  They stated that the Enterprise Foundation was providing technical assistance to them in processing tax credit applications, land acquisition and a line of credit with Federal, National Mortgage Association.  The Housing Authority has looked at  possible site locations in North Biloxi, however, water and sewer is an issue.  The HOPE VI Elderly Housing Project (75 units) is under construction and progressing well.  The Housing Authority has had dialogue with Keesler Air Force Base concerning the future use of their Harrison Court Housing Project as a possible affordable housing location.  They stated they are currently looking for sites in other locations as well (including East Biloxi).
  • Workforce Housing – Director Staehling read an email sent by a workforce housing sub committee person concerning their efforts during the past week that included an interview with the Sun Herald, publication of the survey on the web site, contact with the Coast Chamber and Keesler Air Force Base.  A member also reported on the status of Keesler Air Force Base housing inventory.  KAFB plans on repairing or replacing the majority of on base and off base housing.  It was also reported that the annual economic impact of Keesler Air Force Base is approximately 1.365 billion.  A member also reported communication with the Stennis Center, who will be performing a detailed housing survey with funds provided by the Rockefeller Foundation.  Back Bay Mission reported that they will be performing a housing survey as well and would like to coordinate with the Stennis Center.  Mr. McKellar stated that the sub committee will continue to reach out to employment centers, government entities, public agencies and the media for survey distribution.
  • Elevation, Housing Types, LIHTC – Biloxi Housing Authority stated that the cities inability to adopt the new advisory flood elevations is presenting a serious problem to them concerning site selection and tax credit applications.  All members agreed that the City Council needs to address this issue quickly because it is holding people back concerning their housing repair or replacement decision.  Living Cities is currently holding public hearings for new housing designs and redevelopment opportunities for East Biloxi.  MS Home Corp representatives met with local legislators to insure a significant portion of the tax credit allocation come to the coast where multi family housing losses were large.  The public housing authorities are lobbying for this matter as well.  It was agreed upon by the committee that the coastal counties should additional points for enhancement of their application.  Members also discussed modular housing and that the processing and approval process needs to be streamlined.  The State Fire Marshal needs to expedite the review and compliance procedure.

New Business
Definition of Affordable Housing (Homework Assignment) – A member stated that HUD’s definition is 80% of area median income (AMI) with no more than 30% of household income being paid on rent or mortgage payments.  This member also stated that a source reflected that 2/3 of rental housing throughout Mississippi is single family housing.  HUD uses 50% of AMI for very low income, 80% for low income and above 80% for moderate income.  A member stated that based on the existing market that an affordable housing unit could be classified as under $110,000.00. (land and building).  Members discussed in great detail the increase in cost of homeowners insurance.  It was felt that the monthly payments of insurance financed premiums could very well be more than the mortgage payment itself.  Concerning the types of housing, the membership felt affordable housing shouldn’t be cheap or ugly, but rather qualitative and look good.  The members agreed that we need to underwrite (subsidize) low and very low housing applicants more in order to get them access to good housing.  A member presented a hand out which showed a generic definition and official RI definition of affordable housing.  Living Cities representatives offered to draft a general definition of affordable housing to be used for this committee assignment.  They also stated there are negotiating public consent for the new housing prototype design and stated that increased densities may be necessary to allow more affordable choices.  A member stated that we need to take a closer look at existing single family units that are damaged but suitable for rehab to allow more affordable choices.  It was recommended that a new subsidy be made available to owners who rehab these single family units and set the units aside for affordable housing occupancy.  It was also recommended that the fair market value of HUD vouchers be increased to cover payments for the rehab loan and increased insurance value.   A FEMA representative stated that he would bring all these issues at a meeting later this week with the Deputy Assistant Secretary of HUD.

Meeting Adjourned.


 

MAYOR’S REVIVING THE RENAISSANCE
COMMISSIONAFFORDABLE HOUSING COMMITTEE
Craig Bounds, Chairperson
Wednesday, May 3, 2006

 

Director David Staehling called the meeting to order and went over the proposed agenda.  There was a motion and second to accept minutes from the April 19th and 26th meeting.

 

Old Business
Committee Reports:

Financial Assistance Program – David Staehling discussed the program activities that the City of Biloxi is currently involved with:  1) Back Bay Mission (Tear Out/Rebuild Program); 2) Habitat for Humanity (New Construction on City owned lots); 3) Enterprise Corporation of the Delta (Financial Assistance, Low Interest Second Mortgage Program)

  • Biloxi Housing Authority – It was referenced that the Housing Authority would continue to be the primary conduit for affordable housing development.  Member stated that other housing advocacies (non-profits, CHDO, etc.) should be conduits for affordable housing also.  The committee agreed as well.
  • Workforce Housing – Members discussed the need to gather information and data on workforce housing.  The committee agreed to utilize the workforce housing survey form prepared by Mr. McKellar.  Members stated that the Chambers of Commerce, City of Biloxi web site, newspapers, and other media should help in the marketing and distribution of this document.  It was also suggested that all major institutional employment centers (casinos, Keesler Air Force Base, Government, and medical service, etc.) be contacted and asked to complete the survey form. Mr. McKellar volunteered to head up this initiative along with other members who volunteered to assist him.
  • Elevation, Housing Types, LIHTC (Low Income Housing Tax Credits) –
    • Elevation: Members discussed that the city has a “dilemma with horns” concerning the adoption of FEMA’s proposed ABFE’s (Advisory Base Flood Elevation).  Members discussed the pros and cons of increasing or decreasing flood elevations.  Members also discussed sources of funding to assist home owners with repairing or replacing the residence and how the adoption (or not adopting) of new flood elevations would affect eligibility.  It was recommended that the committee get clarity on the ICC vs Hazard Mitigation funding requirements.
    • Housing Types:  Many housing prototypes are being discussed and tossed around throughout Biloxi (Modular, Pre-Fab, Mobile, Katrina Cottage, Concrete, Steel, Foam, Piling Elevated, etc.).  It was recommended that residents should request detailed plans and specifications when considering one of these prototypes.  Next the residents should submit said plans and specs to the City Department of Community Development for plan review and code compliance before entering into any type of construction agreement or contractual arrangement.  A member mentioned that the Biloxi Housing Authority was considering advertising for a request for proposal for housing prototypes, possibly they could asked that these prototypes reflect architectural and historical character of East Biloxi housing types.  Committee members also discussed long term affects of too much diversification of housing types might be detrimental to the quality and consistency of neighborhood appearance.  All members agreed that the HOPE VI Project is good example of a new housing prototype and development.  Gordon Brigham of Living Cities stated that their plan can help with design standards for quality housing that is responsive to the needs of East Biloxi residents.   It was also stated that Living Cities has the ability to aggregate resources to help pay for housing in addition to planning and designing.
  • LIHTC – Members discussed the need for multi family housing to be blended into the redevelopment fabric for people who cannot afford to mortgage.  Members discussed in great detail the current round of funding for tax credits being allocated by MS Home Corporation (MHC).  It seems that the majority of tax credit applications submitted was for new units in North Mississippi (North of the coastal counties) where no multi family units were lost due to Hurricane Katrina.  It was stated that MHC should set aside a significant portion of the Go Zone Tax Credit Allocation for South Mississippi (particularly, the coastal counties) where all the multi family housing units were lost or damaged.  Members requested MHC email address so they might express their concern over this inequity associated with the current round of funding.  MHC email address is as follows: www.mshomecorp.com .

New Business

A member expressed concern over the State Fire Marshall’s slow response to approve the new housing prototypes (Modular, Pre-Fab, etc.).  David Staehling stated that it might be an issue with the Life Safety Code or Building Code and would ask Director Jerry Creel to look into this matter.  Next, a member voiced their opinion concerning, what is affordable housing and how do we define it in terms of this committee assignment.  David Staehling stated that was an excellent question that merited our attention and recommended that it be a “homework assignment” for next weeks meeting.  The meeting was adjourned.

 


 

 

Affordable Housing Committee
Craig Bounds, Chairperson
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Wednesday, April 26, 2006

 

Chairman Bounds opened the meeting and distributed an agenda along with minutes from the April 12, 2006 meeting.  A motion was made and seconded by Committee Members to accept minutes as presented.  Tonight’s minutes will reflect committee discussions for April 19, 2006 and April 26, 2006 incorporated into one set of minutes.

 

Old Business

April 19, 2006:  Members discussed opportunities with the Biloxi Housing Authority (BHA).  It was disclosed that BHA had lost 150 units and would like to do an additional 500 units.  The BHA is also is going to renovate the 275 units at the HOPE IV Project.  The Housing Authority is also doing an additional 75 units for elderly housing in East Biloxi.  The financing of new units (owner occupied and tenant occupied) might be accomplished with a special HUD supplemental and the line of credit being provided by the Enterprise Foundation.

A member also suggested that a ward meeting in each ward might be a good idea, particularly, if it was organized with stations where residents could receive personal service for public assistance.

Members also discussed the possibility of adding a new feature to the website that would allow a resident to input their address and access recovery information that it relates to their property.

The meeting concluded with Chairman Bounds asking committee members to review the Governor’s Commission Report that applied to affordable housing and be prepared to discuss this matter at the next meeting.

 

Old Business

April 26, 2006:  Chairman Bounds opened the meeting requesting people’s thoughts on the Governor’s Commission on Recovery and Redevelopment as it applied to affordable housing.  A member referenced the City of Biloxi’s adoption of the new International Building Code and the fact that this new code has stronger construction requirements that should mitigate future loss of property during storms.

Chairman Bounds reported that the City of Biloxi’s Department of Community Development has a Geographically Integrated Mapping System (GIS).  This GIS System incorporates the Harrison County base map system in a digital format on a parcel by parcel basis with overlays for (1) existing and advisory base flood elevations (BFE); (2) lot size and dimensions and (3) topographical (i.e., site height above sea level) information.  Members suggested it would be important if we could access a menu attachment for the GIS program that would reflect the types of grants, loans and public assistance available to residents based on where their property is located.

A member recommended that we perform a “needs analysis” to determine the number of single family and multi family units necessary to cover the housing lost or displaced of a result of Hurricane Katrina.  Member also referenced an analysis of destroyed housing units which segregated damage by wind or flood and made a copy available to Chairman Bounds.   Member suggested that we could use the Loper Survey to determine the loss of multi family housing.  Member stated we could use theEnterprise-Warnke Survey {pre – post storm} to help determine displaced single family housing.

Members had the following comments concerning the Governor’s Renaissance Commission and other issues of interest:

  • The plan encouraged mixed use development (single family, multi family, and neighborhood commercial).
  • It recommended the development of a tax incentive package to encourage low income housing construction.  This could include tax abatement or special financial enhancement (i.e., CDBG, HOME or FEMA public assistance funds).
  • A member expressed concern that the conversion a temporary housing to permanent will be difficult in good locations and desirable locations because of NIMBY (not in my backyard) and high land cost.  The member stated that we should possibly look towards the north for a larger tract of land that offered better economies to scale.
  • Member stated that “in-fill” development concept within the City of Biloxi seemed more realistic for affordable housing development.
  • There was more discussion on the “land banking concept” as a viable alternative for land aggregation with the land donors receiving a credit for your value of the property to be used in the future.
  • Member also stated that the Enterprise Corporation of the Delta could help people by providing technical assistance and financial counseling by blending available grants, public assistance, funding, low interest second mortgage and first mortgage bank financing for housing repair or replacement cost.
  • One member stated he was willing to build a concrete home prototype, on his own lot, as a demonstration project.
  • Another member stated that we should encourage casinos to become participants in the construction/development of new affordable housing.
  • General Griffith gave an overview of initiatives that was going on a Keesler Air Force Base:  (1) Keesler was going to replace all of its multi family housing; (2) The Harrison Court off site housing area (Benachi Street) would be used as a contractor mobilization site on an interim basis but we could discuss the future use of that land as a housing authority development site.
  • Committee members discussed the necessity of Mississippi HOME Corp tax credit allocation to include a special set aside allocation for Biloxi and other coastal jurisdictions.  It was also recommended that the coastal zones receive a point enhancement above and beyond non coastal applicants because we lost a lot of inventory and they didn’t.

A member suggested we consider “inclusionary zoning” with a incentive package (increase density and tax exemption) to make affordable housing more attractive to investors/developers.  This member also discussed the need for mortgage flexibility features to help people retain ownership to their homes, including foreclosure prevention counseling and the possibility of forbearance agreements to stay foreclosure proceedings.

There was also more discussion concerning work force training, particularly, in the construction industry where there is a keen demand for labor resources. One member also emailed the committee a Worker Housing Survey that might be sent to employment centers in the Biloxi area to get an accurate reading on the need for worker housing in the short term and long term.

The meeting concluded with a discussion among committee members concerning the possibility of a joint meeting of the Affordable Housing, Finance and Land Use Committees to insure proper integration of related issues and to elevate redundancy.

Chairman Bounds adjourned the meeting and reminded members that the next meeting will be Wednesday, May 3, 2006 at 6:00pm.


 

AFFORDABLE HOUSING COMMITTEE

Craig Bounds, Chairperson

Minutes from Wednesday, April 12, 2006

 

Chairman Bounds opened the meeting and distributed an agenda along with the minutes from the prior meeting.  A motion and second were made by committee members to accept the minutes as presented.

 

Old Business – Committee reports:

Financial Assistance

Biloxi Housing Authority

Workforce Housing

Elevation and Housing Types

Land Acquisition and Low Income Housing Tax Credits

 

Financial Assistance Subcommittee Report

 

Financial Assistance Programs

 

1                    HUD (U.S. Dept of Housing & Urban Development)

 

Single Family Residents

a.      CDBG Funds-Grant funds awarded annually to the City of Biloxi to be used in low/moderate areas or benefit low/moderate income persons.

i.      These funds can be used for Down Payment Assistance to purchase a new home or Rehabilitation of an existing owner-occupied home.

 

 

b.      HOME Funds- Grant funds awarded to the City of Biloxi through the consortium which is made up of City of Biloxi, City of Gulfport and Harrison County.

i.      These funds can be used for Down Payment Assistance, Rehabilitation, Acquisition and new construction.

 

Multi-Family Residents

c.      Multi-Family Apartments- 223F Program –Acquisition and Rehabilitation and 221D4 Program-New Construction.

 

2                    MS Development Authority

 

a.      Homeowner Grant Assistance Program:

i.      3 billion dollar total grant amount. Each homeowner may be eligible for $150,000 or up to the amount insured minus any insurance proceeds and FEMA assistance.

ii.      Must have lived outside flood area and had homeowner’s insurance.

b.       Other Public Assistance:

i.      400 million for Public Housing Authorities.

ii.      600 million for uninsured applicants that did not have insurance at all (to be confirmed).

3                    SBA:

 

a.      Low interest loan for a period of 30 years.

i.      The rates are 2.5 % or market rate. A person may qualify for up to $200,000 for structure and $40,000 for contents. Funds could be used for relocation.

ii.      More than 50% damage assessment could be used to refinance existing mortgage and under 50% will be a second mortgage.

4                    FEMA:

 

a.      Hurricane Relief Program:

i.      The maximum amount is $26,000 less and previous FEMA funds or insurance funds received.

b.      NFIP- ICC credit for elevation funding up to $30,000 will be available to raise home to new flood levels if you were not in a flood zone.

c.      MDA-Funds up to $30,000 will be available to raise home to new flood levels if you were in a flood zone and did not have insurance.

 

5                    MS HOME Corp:

 

a.      Mortgage Revenue Bond Program

i.      58 million available for hurricane victims’ families at a rate of 5.43% for 30 years.

ii.      3% cash advance for Down Payment Assistance

1.      income limits 1 to2 family size is $56,280 a year.

2.      income limits 3 or more family size $65,660 a year.

 

6                    Back Bay Mission:

 

a.      City of Biloxi allocated $200,000 of their HOME Consortium dollars for an emergency repair grant up to $15,000. This is a tear out and repairing the house back to a safe, sanitary and decent living conditions. The labor is all volunteer.

 

7                    Habitat for Humanity:

 

a.      The City will give Habitat approximately 15 scattered sites to build affordable housing.

b.      Habitat is also doing tear outs and repairing back the house to a safe sanitary and decent living conditions.

 

8                    East Biloxi Relief & Coordination Center:

 

a.      This is a tear out and repairing back the house to a safe, sanitary and decent living conditions. The labor is all volunteer.

 

9                    Enterprise Corporation of the Delta:

 

a.      They are offering low interest second mortgage loans for up to thirty years.

b.      They are also a financial assistance consultant.

 

Biloxi Housing Authority Meeting Minutes

 

Committee Chairperson reported that the Hope VI Project would be rebuilt using insurance proceeds and HUD funding to bring the project back to pre-storm condition.  The North side of Bayou Auguste (Old Bayview Apartments) would be reconstructed with builder’s risk insurance proceeds.  The Point Cadet/East End Elderly Housing Project would be completed with Hope VI funding.

 

Members discussed the Oakwood/Westin Homes that would be reconstructed with insurance and HUD funding to make the units available for occupancy as soon as possible.  It was also discussed that these units would probably be displaced in the future and a new project built in its place (approximately five years away).

 

Chairman Griffith discussed the opportunity for the Keesler AFB Housing Project known as Harrison Court could possibly be acquired by the City of Biloxi/Biloxi Housing Authority for future affordable housing development.

 

Workforce Housing Subcommittee Meeting Minutes

 

1)                 Committee member proposed a send a letter to each casino, signed by all member of the Workforce Subcommittee, regarding the number of employees they have and plan to hire.  A draft of this letter will be emailed to each member.

2)                 Committee member, who owns modular housing company in Wiggins, proposed hiring people from the Coast, bringing them to his plant and training them, i.e., building and on-site installation.  These homes can be ready very quickly.  Regulations regarding this type of housing and zoning issues must be addressed.  Water and sewer are also issues in some areas.

3)                 Committee member proposed that in the case of casinos, housing could be added to existing list of amenities.

4)                 Committee member noted that workforce committee must consider the construction industry for temporary housing plans, since they will be here for quite a while.

5)                 Committee member brought up hurricane resistant apartments being built in Hancock County.  It is anticipated that 1,000 units will be built by summer’s end that can withstand 180 mph winds.  The committee will further investigate this by contacting the developing entity.

 

 

Elevation and Housing Type Subcommittee Report

We discussed our mission/purpose, which is to identify concrete examples of housing options, both single-family and multi-family, and associated costs, with and without designated flood elevations.

 

We also have a general sense that we should try to enable people to have as close as possible to what they had pre-Katrina. In other words, if folks were in single-family homes before, we want to enable them to be in single-family homes again. This will require that we minimize costs (which is our job – to identify low-cost options) AND come up with creative financing options (which is not the job of our particular sub-sub-committee, but is the responsibility of our overall committee as well as the finance committee of the R&R.

 

We also raised a number of issues:

 

1.

Discussed eligibility for flood elevation assistance. In a community forum the previous week, Councilman Bill Stallworth had stated that although 5,000 homes were severely damaged or destroyed in East Biloxi alone, only an estimated 871 people in all of Biloxi would actually be eligible for the $30,000 ICC grants for home elevation. The committee did not know the particular details behind eligibility requirements, but this is something we need to be aware of.(especially as this relates to financing

2.

Zoning is not our job, but there are significant implications of zoning on our discussions and outcomes. It was discussed that at the land use committee the previous evening, Jerry Creel had proposed that zoning changes be implemented based on flood elevations, and he is recommending the adoption of the flood elevations. We discussed the fact that we did not feel it was necessary to base zoning on elevations, as they are completely separate issues, and Walter Bolton said he would try to discuss that with Jerry prior to the council meeting next week, when elevations will be discussed and a decision may be taken.

3.

Modular housing was one option we discussed. We will need to do further research and will also need to brainstorm other options.

4.

We discussed the need to define affordability. We did not define it, but it should be based around hard statistical data regarding actual income levels in the area, and “affordability” will mean that a household does not spend more than one-third of its income on housing.

5.

It was noted that many renters who were displaced actually lived in rental HOUSES, not just complexes. We need to think about how these folks could also return to a house, and also how we can try to have these houses rebuilt as houses if possible, to maintain the integrity of the neighborhood. This may be a challenge in some areas, especially where a significant number of houses may have been owned by one individual (for example, some stretches of Holly Street, where one person owns practically an entire block). The reason this is an issue for the Affordable Housing committee is that land is already scarce, and if those rental houses were pre-Katrina affordable housing options and are not re-developed as such, we will need to figure out where all those displaced people will go, and as much as possible, we want to keep people in their own neighborhoods.

 

Land Acquisition and Low Income Housing

Tax Credits Sub-Committee Minutes

1)     Craig Bounds described what Low Income Housing Tax Credits are

a.      Administered by the Mississippi Home Corporation in Mississippi

b.      Available for developers to build affordable housing in areas with high poverty rates

i.      These developers receive a 30% basis bump, which means they receive 30% more credit to build in these areas than in other areas

2)     Barriers for developers to attaining Low Income Housing Tax Credits in Biloxi

a.      Land is very expensive in the coastal counties, so developers are finding places with cheaper land in order to make propose LIHTC projects

b.      Currently, there are 117 projects that were proposed in March, though none of them came from Biloxi

3)     Proposed tactics to channel tax credits to the coastal counties

a.      Add a “locational element” to the MS Home Corp. plans so that we can channel more of the credits to the coastal counties in order to subsidize and account for higher land costs

i.      Allows developers to qualify for 30% basis bump on the coast

ii.      Creates more incentives and opportunities for developers to develop low-income housing on the coast

b.      Partner up and appeal to the governor’s commission, the governor’s office, and other state officials in order to ask the MS Home Corp. to adopt and implement this strategy

4)     Single Family Tax Credits

a.      Work in similar ways that other LIHTC do, but the projects tend to be smaller, and thus not as attractive to developers

b.      However, if a developer can get many single-family homes to develop at a time, it makes these development projects more appealing to them

c.      A rent-to-own program can be incorporated into this project where after 15 years, the tenant has the opportunity to buy the property, often at much more affordable rates than other surrounding properties due to the lower front-end costs to the developers

5)     Land Acquisition on a large scale is difficult in East Biloxi because there are minimal large lots right that are available

a.      Land that is acquired could potentially be handled by the public housing office and sub-committee for public housing using the funds they have received from the Enterprise Foundation and from government programs

6)     Land aggregation

a.      How feasible and beneficial is it for homeowners in a certain area to aggregate their lands in order to bump up property values to sell to developers, or to create a land banking system where they can then hire a contractor to develop their land together

i.      In the first instance, if they sell the land to developers, homeowners would no longer own the property

ii.      If the homeowners bank their lands and get a contractor to build on it, then they would still own a portion of that larger piece of property

iii.      Discussed how difficult this process may be and how the general public may not be able to do these mergers without technical assistance

b.      Zoning changes would have to be made in the city in order to allow single-family lots to be combined and for possible development of mixed-used and/or mixed-income properties

7)     Incentives and/or requirements for developers to build affordable housing

a.      Incentives may include lowered permitting fees for developers, more streamlined project approval processes so they can save time and money on the front-end, and promise of zoning for higher density projects if the developers agree to building more affordable housing in these dense zones

b.      Other developer incentives could be to have an “ombudsman” or another type of city employee working within the city approval process for development projects that would act as advocates for developers. This employee can streamline and organize the different permitting processes and approval processes from separate city departments so that developers have more assurance that their projects will be successful and that there is more internal coordination within the city for these new projects.

c.      Requirements could be to set certain percentages of affordable housing that developers must build in their projects

i.      May be established during the zoning requirements or the permitting requirements

 

Discussion:

 

Chairman Griffith discussed an Econometric Model that equated future employment to housing needs as it related to Workforce Housing.  Members agreed on the need for construction labor housing units.  Modular housing seemed to be best suited to this temporary housing need.

 

Committee members discussed the necessity of the Land Use Committee and the Elevation and Housing Type Subcommittee of Affordable Housing Committee to work closely together to address issues that make the best sense for homeowners and redevelopment.  Members also discussed the need to look at locations outside of “high cost land areas” so the affordable housing arithmetic could work to the benefit of homeowners and developers.  The need to start land banking was discussed possibly using the Biloxi Housing Authority’s non-profit as a conduit.  Also, that land aggregation for single-family property owners might be a plausible consideration for resale or redevelopment, provided that proper technical assistance was made available.

 

Members discussed the need to create a developer incentive package to encourage reinvestment and redevelopment in target areas.  The following incentives were discussed:  tax abatement, density bonuses for housing, tax exempt bond financing, and accelerated depreciation.

 

Chairman Bounds stated that the tax credit allocation being made available by Mississippi Home Corporation should set aside a significant portion for South Mississippi.  The need for the GO zone sunset date extension was also discussed, at least one to two years should be added to that maturity to address the construction completion requirement.

 

The committee members discussed casino involvement/participation in the affordable housing initiative.  A committee member stated that a brief meeting was held with the three operating casino CFOs, the following issues were discussed:  (1) all casinos have had discussions with housing development entities, but there were no deals on the table at the present time; (2) the casino entities referenced that 25% to 30% or approximately 1,200 employees would be categorized as affordable housing persons; (3) they felt that their affordable people were staying with family, friends, and relatives within a local jurisdiction (particularly Jackson County); and (4) they all expressed deep concern over the extremely high cost of real estate in East Biloxi and that it would discriminate against affordable housing construction/development.

 

New Business – No new business

 

Next Meeting is Wednesday, April 19, 2006, at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

 


 

AFFORDABLE HOUSING COMMITTEE
Craig Bounds, Chairperson
Minutes from Wednesday, April 5, 2006

 

Chairman Bounds opened the meeting and distributed an agenda along with the minutes from the prior meeting.  A motion was made by Jason Lee and seconded by a committee member to accept the minutes as presented.

Old Business – Chairman Bounds called on Jerry Creel, Community Development Director, to present the Land Use Maps that reflect the existing zoning classifications for the geography of east Biloxi. Director Creel also went over the FEMA Flood Maps (with both the existing and proposed elevations).  He stated that residential properties would be required to elevate if they were below the basic flood elevation (BFE) if they chose to rebuild before the new elevation is adopted.  However, commercial properties will have the option to elevate or flood proof as long as they met the FEMA flood elevation requirements.  He also stated there would be a flood map council workshop on Tuesday, April 18th at 9:00am to discuss the new Average Base Flood Elevation. (ABFE).  During Mr. Creel’s presentation on Land Use, a committee member raised an issue of concern for herself and other members of the community.  She explained that like many other members of the community, she had been encouraged to build back as soon as possible.  She had used her personal resources to repair her home and the home of a relative.  She was very disturbed to learn that she may not qualify for the $150,000 grant because she may not meet the new elevation and building standards to be adopted by the City.

Director Creel concluded his presentation by presenting the casino 800 foot development zone.  A committee member reflected that a significant number of the Vietnamese population lived inside the flood zone and are not eligible for the Governor’s Homeowner Assistance Program.  David Staehling commented that $600 million of the Governor’s Homeowner Assistance Program would be for uninsured applicants.  He also stated that one could apply electronically or set up an appointment at the Homeowner’s Assistance Center at the Factory Outlet Mall at Hwy 49 and 1-10 in Gulfport. Chairman Bounds reported to the committee a member of the committee, Gerald Blessey, had written a six page memorandum detailing his vision of an Affordable Housing Program for Biloxi.  Mr. Bounds explained that he would be giving a copy to the Finance Committee for their review.

Chairman Bounds asked David Staehling to hand out the HUD Median Income Limits, East Biloxi Housing Survey and the housing prototypes indigenous to the architectural character of East Biloxi neighborhoods (straight Shotgun, lateral wing Shotgun, Bungalow Cottage, Creole Cottage and the Gable Cottage).  Chairman Bounds asked any members wishing to have the East Biloxi Survey to sign the email request sheet so that it can be transmitted electronically.

New Business – Chairman Bounds explained the need to separate the committee into sub-committees so that the major issues of affordable housing could be discussed in detail and submitted back to the overall committee for further discussion and ultimate recommendation for implementation.  The committee was sub-categorized as follows with the members listed below for each category:

1. Financial Assistance Program – This sub-committee will develop a menu of financial assistance programs, in laymen terms, with all available grants, loan, mortgages thru HUD (CDBG, HOME, FHA-VA, etc.)  Mississippi Development Authority (MDA), Small Business Administration (SBA), FEMA, MEMA, Hazard Mitigation, Historic Preservation, and Mississippi Home Corp.

William Vastine, Carolyn Handler, and David Staehling

2. Biloxi Housing Authority – Chairman Bounds stated that the Biloxi Housing Authority (BHA) would play a very important role in this affordable housing initiative.  The BHA through its HOPE VI redevelopment project (Old Bayview/Bayou Aguste), Elderly Housing Project (Old East End Homes), land sales and land acquisition efforts and their line of credit with the Enterprise Foundation ($20 million) will open a lot of new housing inventory opportunities for East Biloxi and Biloxi proper.  Also, the BHA’s 501c3 Non-Profit could be a conduit for affordable housing proposals to pass through.

Bobby Hensley, Helen Werby, Angela Burney-Smallman, Gen. Clark Griffith

3. Workforce Housing – This committee will help determine the housing needs for the Seafood Industry, Entry Level Employees for Keesler Air Force Base, Casino Industry, and all other support employment necessary for the business community and economic redevelopment to occur.

Pat Morris, Charles McKellar, Uyen Le

4. Elevation, Housing Type Alternatives (single family, multi family, townhomes), Land Acquisition and Low Income Housing Tax Credit (single family & multi family) -  It was decided these multiple categories should be merged into one committee assignment and coordinated with the Land Use Committee since they have many parallels concerning elevation, construction, density and design.

Walter “Buzzy” Bolton, Uyen Le, Kim Bui, Angela Burney-Smallman, Shari Prestemon, Charles McKellar, Jason Lee, Betty Gates, Kristy Truong, Cass Woods

 

 

Committee members voiced concerns over the following issues:

  • The Affordable Housing Committee will have to be an advocacy to insure the Planning Commission, City Council and other boards embrace the need for affordable housing in all areas where it is recommended to be constructed.  This will be necessary because of the “not in my backyard” syndrome and defuse the negative perception of affordable housing impact on contiguous neighborhoods.
  • Committee members discussed the need of residents to come back into their neighborhoods with conforming status and not need variances on lot size issues.
  • Members also raised concern about the perceived propensity for casino and other high density commercial development to dominate east Biloxi.
  • Members discussed the term “affordability” and that it means different things for different people.  It should be income sensitive with accessibility for the entire resident population of east Biloxi.  However, it should be focused on affordable housing in the sense of low to moderate income levels.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING COMMITTEE

Craig Bounds, Chairperson

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

 

Chairman Bounds opened the meeting by welcoming everyone and thanking them for their participation.  He distributed an agenda for the meeting that asked for a roundtable introduction of all members in attendance.  He stated that the mission of this committee would be to assess the needs, problems and issues associated with affordable housing and develop a solution to resolve the same.

Gen. Clark Griffith, chairman of the RTR committee, stated that he thought the affordable housing opportunities for Biloxi were very good for all categories of housing needs.  He made it clear that the committee should come up with viable options that were practical and realistic for the low income and elderly residents of Biloxi.  He also stated that these recommendations need to be presented and explained in a manner that is easy to understand for the people that these housing options will be made available to.

Committee members discussed the following issues as they pertained to the Governor’s $4 billion  CDBG Homeowner Assistance Program:

1.      $3 billion for people who were not in a flood zone, not required to have flood insurance, were flooded and had homeowner’s insurance.

2.      $1 billion, of which $400 million was available for public housing authority assistance and $600 million for uninsured residents.

Committee members discussed need for renter assistance programs, residents with insufficient insurance and financing plans for people who want to rebuild in east Biloxi.

Craig Bounds talked about the tax credit program offered through MS Home Corporation.  The tax credit program is available for both single family and multi family housing development.  The tax credits are sold to investors and the proceeds from the sale convert to cash/equity applied toward the development cost of the housing.  This results in a reduction of debt required for the project and allows the rental units to be leased at pricing that meets the affordability needs of low income residents.  Craig also mentioned that the single family housing tax credit program could result in a zero balance mortgage for the applicant/owner.

Committee members talked about the new flood elevation requirements and the impacts they will have on residents that want to rebuild.  The new elevations will certainly impact cost but will mitigate future property loss.  They will affect the traditional character of neighborhoods but will keep insurance premiums from radically increasing.  Should they build back at the current elevation levels its pretty certain that insurance premiums will increase significantly and financing will be difficult.

David Staehling talked about an emergency housing repair program with the Back Bay Mission that will be implemented in the near future.  This will be a tear-out, sanitize and rebuild residential housing program.  He also talked about the committee working on a program that would blend homeowners insurance proceeds, FEMA assistance, soft-second mortgages and first mortgage bank financing to help residents that want to rebuild on their lots.

Bobby Hensley with the Biloxi Housing Authority discussed the rebuilding of the Hope VI project, the east end elderly housing and a new financing/partnership with the Enterprise Foundation that will provide $20 million for land acquisition to support new affordable housing development.

Committee members talked about land availability and the high cost associated with it for new residential development.  Comments were made concerning purchase with donations, land banking through a non-profit conduit and the Biloxi Housing Authority  looking into the $400 million available through the Governor’s Assistance Program.

The Committee members discussed the type and quantity of housing needed and the necessity to develop a menu of financing and grant programs available to support the housing redevelopment in east Biloxi.  Committee members requested copies of the following for our next meeting:

1.                  New flood elevation maps

2.                  Zoning map

3.                  Casino Zone Geography with 800 ft. setback

4.                  HUD Affordable Housing Income for Harrison County

5.                  List of financial assistance programs (loans, grants, FEMA, MS Home Corp, etc.)

6.                  East Biloxi survey and housing prototypes (Warenke and Perkes)

Committee members requested a member from each of the three casinos operating to sit on the Affordable Housing Committee.

Meeting was adjourned and the next meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, April 4, 2006 at 6:00pm in the City Council Chambers at City Hall Biloxi (enter through front door).