Salt Lake City, Utah – February 5, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) – Back in 2007, the Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund Board approved projects to build 713 units of affordable housing. This was critical because of the serious shortage of affordable housing in the state. These projects created 953 jobs directly, plus indirect and induced jobs.
Then came the economic downturn in 2008. While numbers of expensive homes lay vacant, it was harder than ever for someone with modest income to find affordable housing. Families evicted from foreclosed homes put new pressure on the already tight rental market. Rents increased, families had to move into something cheaper, and affordable units filled up. Families who were the most vulnerable began to show up at the doors of homeless shelters in abruptly larger numbers.
At the same time, with the credit crunch, it became significantly more difficult for developers to get funding to build or renovate housing. Tax credits, which often make the difference in whether or not a developer can afford to build an affordable housing project, were harder to sell, as profits went down for virtually everybody.
These factors worked together to widen the already huge gap between demand for affordable housing, and the supply of such units.
In the face of this crisis, the Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund utilized strategic planning, financial partnering, strict analysis of proposed projects and other strategies to create or renovate 128% as many units compared to 2007, for a total of 913. This created 1,357 jobs directly, and indirectly meant some 775 additional jobs for an estimated total of 2,022 jobs in 2008. The projects meant more money circulating in the community-money spent in stores, paid in taxes, and deposited in banks.
The Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund was created in 1987 to create and preserve safe and affordable housing for low-income Utahns. The fund provides “bridge funding,” in the form of grants and loans, to developers statewide who then leverage the money to obtain federal and private equity and tax credits. The fund is managed by the Division of Housing and Community Development under the Utah Department of Community and Culture.