Government

$8M in tax credits for Cedar Rapids development targeting homeless

Project expected to open on Edgewood Road in 2018

Downtown Cedar Rapids as seen from the top of Mount Trashmore on Tuesday, May 14, 2014. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Downtown Cedar Rapids as seen from the top of Mount Trashmore on Tuesday, May 14, 2014. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A housing project devoting 10 percent of its units to permanent housing for the chronically homeless was approved Monday for $8 million in federal housing tax credits.

The Crestwood Ridge Apartments, destined for 1200 Edgewood Road NW adjacent to Fire Station No. 3, will have four market-rate units, 36 units for people earning 60 percent of the median household income and five more “supportive housing” units for people earning 30 percent of the median income, according to the developer.

“This is really a permanent rental home, not transitional housing, not a shelter,” Justin Eilers, housing manager for CommonBond Communities, said of the supportive units. “These are apartments. This is really exciting. It will be able to help keep those households stable, give them a foundation and connect them to community resources.”

The Iowa Finance Authority board of directors committed $800,000 annually for a 10-year period, or about $8 million, to the project developed by the St. Paul, Minn.-based non-profit CommonBond, in partnership with Willis Dady Emergency Shelter. The Cedar Rapids development was among $68.6 million in 2016 Housing Tax Credits awarded to 11 projects totaling 549 units.

The credits are part of a pilot program for a “non-competitive homeless demonstration set-aside.”

Affordable housing is much needed in the area. Only eight such units exist in Linn County for the homeless population, Eilers said.

The supportive housing units are unique in that they come with support services provided by Willis Dady and delivered on-site, he said. The rates for the affordable and supportive housing one, two and three bedroom units range in price from $453 to $950 a month.

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Phoebe Trepp, executive director of Willis Dady, called the units a huge need. She said in a single night, 400 people here don’t have a home and 20 percent of the homeless population experiences repeat homelessness.

“We are working to coordinate the entry process and identifying who has the most need for supportive housing and who would benefit the most,” Trepp said.

The city of Cedar Rapids owns the property, which it bought for $550,000 in 2012. Earlier this year, the City Council approved sale of the property and conditional financial assistance contingent on the tax credit. The sale price was $280,000 for a 1.98 acre parcel, about two-thirds of the city property, according to documents.

Eilers said construction is expected to begin next year and occupancy is likely in early spring 2018. The overall project is about $9 million, he said.

CommonBond, which has been operating for 45 years, has 105 properties mostly in Minnesota but also in Wisconsin and Iowa. In Cedar Rapids, the organization also owns The Meadows, 1030 Memorial Drive SE, which has 66 units, Eilers said.

The money for the program comes through a per capita allocation of federal tax credits through the IRS, according to the Iowa Finance Authority.

l Comments: (319) 339-3177; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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