Council OKs measures for rental homes

COVINGTON -- The revitalization of Walker's Bend subdivision off Ga. Highway 81 is continuing as the City Council approved two measures Monday that will result in assistance for low-income residents to obtain housing there.

The council approved a resolution in support of efforts by Affordable Equity Partners to obtain tax credits to build new, affordable rental homes in Walker's Bend. Affordable Equity Partners will buy lots owned by the Covington Redevelopment Authority to build homes that would be rented to low-income individuals.

Jim Markel with Affordable Equity Partners told the council the company would own the cottage-style, single-family homes for at least 15 years and would maintain the grounds during that time. The homes will range between 1,400 and 1,600 square feet. Markel said he expects to purchase 28 lots and build 32 homes.

The project is contingent upon obtaining the tax credits. An announcement is expected by October, and if approved, construction on the rental homes would begin in the spring, according to Planning Director Randy Vinson.

Affordable Equity Partners is the developer behind the senior housing project planned for Harristown, for which it obtained similar tax credits.

The council also gave the city grant writer approval to apply for a state Department of Community Affairs CHIP grant in the amount of $300,000. The grant would provide funding for down-payment assistance to low-income residents for the purchase of homes within Walker's Bend.

Each applicant could receive up to $14,999 in assistance. Applicants will not be able to earn more than 80 percent of the area median income. For Covington, that would be $57,350 for a family of four. The grant could be applied only to homes built after 1978 that are single-family, owner occupied, not investment properties. The applicant would have to reimburse funds if he or she lived in the home for less than six years.

If approved, the cost to the city would be in the form of man hours and accounting costs. Because the city has never administered a CHIP grant, an outside administrator is required by DCA, and those costs would be covered by program funding.

The grant is expected to help with down payments on between 15 and 20 homes, according to grant writer Randy Conner.