This week, when Senator Todd Young (R-IN) announced new legislation for a taskforce that will examine the affordable housing crisis in our country, he did so at a LISC-supported senior housing community in Indianapolis. It represented a strong validation of the importance of closing the housing gap, and of the comprehensive community transformation that LISC leads.
Working at the juncture of community transformation and policy, as we do at LISC, we know how crucial federal attention to the affordable housing gap is to our mission. Federal support for the creation and preservation of affordable housing is one of the most powerful tools we have for providing residents in our communities with safe, accessible homes.
So this week, when Senator Todd Young (R-IN) introduced the Task Force on the Impact of the Affordable Housing Crisis Act of 2018, in front of a LISC-supported senior housing complex in Indianapolis, we had cause for celebration. The act proposes creating a federal task force to examine our nation’s affordable housing crisis and the ways it affects a range of quality of life issues, including education, employment, income, health, and access to food and transportation.
The task force will also examine how the lack of affordable housing impacts spending on other federal, state, and local government programs, such as Medicaid or public schools. Ultimately, the task force members will deliver a report to Congress on how affordable housing can be used to improve other federal programs and outcomes for families and communities. The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Angus King (I-ME), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Dean Heller (R-NV), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Doug Jones (D-AL), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Chris Coons (D-DE).
That the senator chose to highlight this legislation at Oxford Place Senior Apartments in the Englewood Village neighborhood of Indianapolis says a lot about LISC’s impact and role in the community. Englewood Village is one of five neighborhoods selected for a LISC Indianapolis initiative called Great Places 2020.
Through Great Places, we are investing to create dynamic, walkable centers of culture, commerce and community, with ready access to quality housing, employment, recreation, education and public transportation. In Englewood, as in all the Great Places neighborhoods, LISC’s work is guided by comprehensive community planning and engagement with residents. All of these efforts dovetail with Senator Young’s legislation, which recognizes the importance of affordable housing to catalyze opportunity for people who live in underinvested areas.
Oxford Place, the setting for the announcement, opened its doors in 2016 and is Indiana’s first “net positive energy” development, meaning the building produces more energy than it consumes. Through cutting-edge energy saving methods like solar panels, geothermal heating, solar-heated siding and rain gardens, Oxford Place is able to operate without energy from the grid. Serving 30 seniors, the project provides much-needed affordable, safe, accessible housing for the neighborhood.
LISC provided early stage debt to get the Oxford Place off the ground, and later secured more than $5.5 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credit equity through our affiliate, the National Equity Fund (NEF).
That’s just a slice of LISC’s investment in affordable housing in Englewood Village. Another project, Oxford Flats, opened earlier this year with 15 below- and market-rate units. Like the senior apartments, the building comprises green, energy-efficient design and many other amenities.
Construction is also underway on Phase II of the Oxford Place Senior Apartments, known as Parker Place, which will open in March 2019, thanks in part to LISC and more than $5 million in NEF financing. This four-story building will offer 39 units and a community space.
We know that safe and integrated affordable housing is one of the most effective means for connecting people in the communities we care about with opportunities and services that help them reach their goals. Senator Young and the co-sponsors of this important bill can help accelerate the creation of comprehensive—and essential--affordable housing that everyone deserves.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matt Josephs, Senior Vice President for Policy
Matt manages the team that is responsible for developing LISC’s federal policy agenda; communicating this agenda to LISC employees, board members, funders and other stakeholders; and pursuing this agenda through engagement with members of Congress and other federal officials.