First Regional Equitable Development Initiative Fund Deal to Bring Transit-Oriented Affordable Homes to Tacoma’s West End

Tacoma Housing Authority’s James Center North to include approximately 300 – 500 affordable and market-rate homes, as well as retail, commercial and community space 

TACOMA, Wash. – Nov. 7, 2017 – The first deal to close with financing from the Regional Equitable Development Initiative (REDI) Fund will bring hundreds of affordable and market-rate homes to Tacoma’s West End, helping to ensure that the transit accessible neighborhood can remain economically diverse.
 
Through the transaction, which closed on October 25, the Tacoma Housing Authority (THA) secured a $4 million loan from the REDI Fund coupled with $2 million from the Washington State Housing Finance Commission’s Land Acquisition Program (LAP) to help purchase for redevelopment a commercial property at 1620 S. Mildred Street.
 
When THA’s redevelopment plan is complete, the site called James Center North is expected to include approximately 300 – 500 new homes, at least 150 of which will be affordable to low- and moderate-income households, as well as retail, commercial and community space.  The seven-acre site is a few-minute walk from Tacoma Community College and Pierce Transit Center, which features local and intercity bus service today and will become the southern terminus of the region’s light rail system in the future.
 
“The REDI Fund provides critical, early, low-cost financing to acquire sites for development of affordable and mixed-income homes in transit-accessible areas like the West End, helping to keep neighborhoods connected to transit affordable to all residents, many of whom pay at least half of their income on home and commuting costs,” said M.A. Leonard, vice president and Pacific Northwest market leader, Enterprise Community Partners, whose subsidiary Enterprise Community Loan Fund (ECLF) administers the REDI Fund. “The flexibility allows developers to acquire land in a competitive, open market.”
 
Since 2007, Washington State Housing Finance Commission’s Land Acquisition Program has provided $22.1 million through the revolving loan fund, to finance 33 land purchases statewide. “We’re very pleased that we can work with community development financing institutions like ECLF and developers like our longtime partners at THA to make sure land is preserved for affordable housing,” said Karen Miller, chair, Washington State Housing Finance Commission.
 
The James Center North purchase will also feature in the growing partnership between THA and Tacoma Community College (TCC). In 2014, THA and TCC began a pilot program that provided rental assistance vouchers to 40 enrolled homeless students, and their families. The results to date have been impressive. In comparison with the 150 homeless students who applied but did fit into the pilot, the assisted students were four times more likely after two years to remain enrolled or to graduate.  Earlier this year, on the strength of these data, the TCC and THA boards approved expansion of the program to an ever replenishing cohort of 150 enrolled homeless students. Yet in West Tacoma, housing vouchers are having trouble keeping up with the rising rental market. THA expects the housing at James Center North, which is right across the street from the TCC campus, will be another way to house these students.
 
THA Executive Director Michael Mirra explained, “The James Center North purchase will greatly strengthen THA’s long-term investment in education. The property is across the street from the campus of Tacoma Community College. It is also a short bus ride away, and eventually a light rail line ride away, from the campuses of Bates Technical College and University of Washington at Tacoma. These schools face a serious extent of homelessness among its enrolled students. THA seeks to help. The housing at James Center North will help do that.
 
“This purchase and others serve another purpose,” Mirra added. “As rents continue to escalate, purchasing and developing James Center North and other properties help ensure that Tacoma neighborhoods will retain some measure of affordable housing and some measure of racial and economic integration.”
 
Based upon the impact a stable home has on a child’s ability to learn and the strong linkage between high quality early learning and positive lifelong outcomes, Enterprise has also expanded its work in the education sector with the launch of Home and Hope, an initiative to identify and secure underutilized tax-exempt land to address both needs in King County.
 
The REDI Fund was launched in December by Enterprise Community Partners and a coalition of public, private and nonprofit investors. With affordable housing increasingly difficult to find in the Puget Sound region, especially near job centers, education and transit, the fund is intended to be leveraged for mixed-income development along the historic $54 billion regional transit buildout, including light rail expansion and future transit lines that were approved last year. Funders include Enterprise Community Loan Fund, Low Income Investment Fund, Living Cities Blended Catalyst Fund, State of Washington, King County Housing Authority, City of Seattle, King County, and A Regional Coalition for Housing.
 
To learn more about the REDI Fund, contact James Madden, senior program director, Enterprise, at 206-204-3424 or jmadden@enterprisecommunity.org. 
 
Enterprise Community Partners is a proven and powerful nonprofit that improves communities and people’s lives by making well-designed homes affordable. We bring together the nationwide know-how, partners, policy leadership and investments to multiply the impact of local affordable housing development. Over 35 years, Enterprise has created nearly 470,000 homes, invested $28.9 billion and touched millions of lives. Join us at www.EnterpriseCommunity.org.
 
The  Washington State Housing Finance Commission is a publicly accountable, self-supporting team that works with lenders, investors, developers, nonprofit organizations and more to bring private investment dollars to benefit families and achieve public goals throughout Washington. The Commission has created and preserved more than 350,000 affordable homes across the state, while contributing more than $42.5 billion and 240,000 jobs to the economy.
 
Tacoma Housing Authority: Established in 1940, Tacoma Housing Authority engages in a wide range of efforts to help its City meet the growing need for affordable housing.  THA develops and manages real estate.  It provides rental housing.  In partnership with thousands of landlords, it helps families pay the rent in the private rental market.  It delivers supportive services to help families succeed as “tenants, parents, students, wage earners and builders of assets”  It helps them purchase their first home.  THA seeks to do its work in ways that help neighborhoods be “attractive places to live, work, attend school, shop and play”, and that help its City be safe, vibrant, prosperous, attractive and just.”