From the October issue: It’s no secret that affordable housing projects need to pass through a complex maze of tax-credit lotteries and official approvals. Even when former Miami Heat basketball player Alonzo Mourning decided to shine some of his prodigious star power on the issue, such was the case.
In 2008, Mourning teamed up with affordable housing advocate Matt Rieger, the president and CEO of the Coconut Grove-based Housing Trust Group, to develop the Courtside Family Apartments on four acres of county-owned land at 1699 Northwest 4th Avenue in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood. Their goal: Create an atypical affordable housing project packed with such amenities as a fitness center, computer lab, library and outdoor barbecue area.
They planned to finance most of the $23 million estimated cost of construction by selling lucrative federal low-income housing tax credits, a common strategy used to finance the building of such projects. But after failing to win the more profitable of these tax credits, which are doled out annually by the housing agency in each state via lottery, the partners decided they needed a Plan B. And relatively fast. According to the terms of their lease with the county, they needed to line up construction financing within three years of securing the land, or risk losing it. [more]