Officials celebrate renovations achieved by financing program
U.S. Senator Jack Reed got a phone call yesterday afternoon as he was seated between and Mayor Scott Avedisian and Barbara Fields, Executive Director of RIHousing. Each was a speaker at a ribbon cutting celebrating the completion of upgrades and renovations to the 53-unit Greenwood Terrace housing development for low-income seniors on Post Road built in 1978.
The call would have gone unnoticed since Reed didn’t leave his seat or take the call. The ceremony proceeded as planned, with Reed giving a rosier picture of funding for low-income housing than when he visited the complex in the midst of construction during the summer. At that time he said President Trump’s budget cuts would result in major losses to programs aimed at addressing affordable housing. He reported, through bipartisan efforts, Congress has been able to restore $8.9 billion in funding.
“We’re going to work together,” he vowed. Reed said after the ceremony additional funding is required to meet the need, but at least for the time being the housing assistance program could continue.
The primary source of funding for the Greenwood Terrace renovations is a $4.385 million permanent taxable loan insured through the U.S. Treasury-HUD Federal Financing Bank (“FFB”) HFA Multifamily Risk Sharing Loan Financing Initiative. Risk Share provides credit enhancement for mortgages of multifamily housing projects whose loans are underwritten, processed and serviced by housing finance agencies like RIHousing. HUD and the housing finance agency share in the risk of the mortgage.
The improvements cost about $850,000.
This development marks the seventh time RIHousing has financed preservation of an existing development through the FFB Risk Sharing program. Fields said five more state projects are planned.
Fields was especially complementary of Reed, saying, “He never says no to these events where the rubber hits the road.” Speaking to tenants who gathered for the event, Fields added that the program to provide energy-efficient, respectable housing is “about you in this room.” She let it be known that even a high level government call hadn’t pulled Reed away from the ceremony, as he is that committed to his constituents. Later, it was learned the Secretary of Defense was the caller.
Avedisian said the impact of the renovations reaches beyond the 53 lives directly affected, “it ripples out to their families.” He cited the city’s recent upgraded bond rating, surplus and developments including increased service at Green Airport and construction at City Centre Warwick.
“We can do all those things, but if we’re not working for our residents it doesn’t matter,” he said.
Under the FFB program, RIHousing is able to provide reduced interest rates for the preservation of affordable multifamily apartments. The low interest rates and affordability of the units are locked in for the length of the loan term, which is 40 years for Greenwood Terrace.
“Greenwood Terrace is the latest example of the collaborative relationship between RIHousing and Property Advisory Group/Cathedral Development Group,” John B. Bentz, President of Property Advisory Group, the property manager said in a statement. “Our work will not only enhance these units for the current residents, but will also ensure they are preserved for years to come.”