Rose Krebs, Staff Writer
Burlington County Times
“CINNAMINSON — A long-planned affordable housing project on Riverton Road is slated to begin this spring now that financing is in place.
But there have been bumps in the road, including securing additional last-minute financing, according to Matthew Reilly, president and CEO of Moorestown Ecumenical Neighborhood Development Inc., commonly known as MEND.
MEND and Conifer Realty, of Mount Laurel, were awarded $1.05 million in tax credits last year to build 54 age-restricted affordable units on 2.7 acres on Riverton Road. The property, which has a large home on it that was formerly used by a nonprofit for senior citizen housing, was purchased by the municipality more than a decade ago.
On Wednesday, the Burlington County Board of Freeholders authorized $240,000 more in loan money from the county’s HOME Investment Partnerships Program to MEND for the project. In 2016, the county awarded an additional $200,000.
Reilly said his organization was “lucky” that the county had the funds available because the tax reforms passed by Congress would impact the equity of tax credits MEND was going to be able to secure.
“Thank you very much to the county,” Reilly said.
He said the $12.8 million project was short on funding after the reforms led to a reduction in tax credit equity of about $1.2 million.
Reilly said tax reform is having a “fairly dramatic impact” on affordable housing projects because the banks that pay for the tax credits are now offering less on the dollar than in previous years. Developers rely on that equity to fund projects.
Because of the reduced equity, MEND had to take out an additional $160,000 in mortgage debt and make cost reductions of $800,000 to be able to fully fund the Cinnaminson project, Reilly said. MEND and Conifer both ended up reducing their project fees.
“We’re ready to go,” Reilly said. “We think it’s going to be a beautiful building and quite a dramatic upgrade from what has been there for the past 10 years.”
“The freeholder board is proud to be able to ensure this much-needed project in Cinnaminson becomes a reality,” freeholder Director Kate Gibbs said. “Providing resources to seniors, who are among the most vulnerable in our communities, has always been one of the board’s top priorities.”
The county’s loans will fund about 11 units, officials said.
“The additional $240,000 request for HOME funds will prevent a potentially insurmountable funding gap for the project,” Gibbs said. “Changes in the tax credit market created a situation in that the completion of the project would be in jeopardy without sacrifices made by MEND and additional support from the county.”
The house will be demolished and replaced by a three-story building with 53 one-bedroom apartments and one two-bedroom unit. To qualify, residents must be at least 62 years old and meet certain income standards.
Rents will be determined using limits and income-eligibility requirements set by the state. Based on current figures, monthly rent would range from about $301 to $866 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,039 for two bedrooms, Reilly said. Residents would be eligible for an allowance to offset utility costs.
The annual maximum income for tenants is expected to be about $19,000 to $22,000, Reilly said.
“This development is a perfect example of how municipalities and the freeholders can work together to share services on behalf of county residents,” Mayor Howard “Bud” Evans said. “I am thrilled to work alongside MEND, the county and others to turn this eyesore in our town into a beautiful, new senior residence.”
Applications are not yet being accepted, but anyone interested can call MEND at 856-722-7070, ext. 20.