But not everyone knows the ins-and-outs of complicated financing of affordable housing, and that’s where Citizens Union Bank really shines.
“It’s a very specialized niche and we have a dedicated team to help make it easier for clients,” says Tammy Thomas, Senior Vice President and Director of CUB’s Affordable Housing Department.
Working hand in hand
Whether it’s a Low-Income Tax Credit or another affordable housing program, CUB works hand-in-hand with real estate developers to maximize their opportunity to make a good investment in both their business and in the community at large.
“The Low Income Tax Credit program is the most successful public/private program for creating affordable housing ever,” Thomas says. “Nationally the foreclosure rate on these properties is less than 1 percent. Even during the 2008 recession, there was very little foreclosure.”
Developers use this special financing to build or refurbish multi-family and single family housing in communities – often called “workforce housing” – so that modest wage earners still have access to good homes. Private and government incentives make it feasible financially for developers to take on such projects, charge lower rents and still be profitable.
“There are lots of different affordable housing products,” Thomas says. “We’re here to help developers find the one that makes the most sense for them individually. It definitely isn’t one size fits all financing.”
CUB’s personal approach
While some large banks offer affordable housing financing, Thomas says that CUB – because it is a Community Bank and has a mission that is community-oriented – has an outstanding and very personal approach to affordable housing.
“Helping families get into homes they can afford is something we are very passionate about. We live in the communities we serve,” Thomas says. “We want to see these projects succeed.”
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act doesn’t fully kick in until later this year, but it includes significant changes that will affect affordable housing projects. All the more reason to partner with a Community Bank that will do research on a customer’s behalf and find the most advantageous financing plan.
“Tax reform will have a big impact on these programs,” Thomas says. “There are going to be changes and we’re prepared to help customers find their way through the new requirements.”
Thomas, who sits on the Board of Housing Partnership Inc., says that there is currently a program underway in Shelby and Jefferson counties to refurbish some existing affordable housing properties and then sell them outright to residents who make at or less than 60 percent of the median household income for a county.
“We had 47 homes to sell and there are only 23 left,” Thomas says. “They’re selling like hot cakes.”
This is just one example of the innovation and commitment to sustainability that affordable housing embraces.
CUB not only finances affordable housing projects in Kentucky but also in surrounding states and beyond. Despite the regional reach, CUB still brings a very community-focused approach to these projects.
“We always focus on local communities,” Thomas says. “That is and will always be our commitment.”