HYATTSVILLE – Montgomery Housing Partnership is asking the city of Hyattsville to give it a break – a tax break that is – as it ramps up its campaign to update its low-income housing stock in the city.
For the past three months, Hyattsville and Montgomery Housing have been in talks about the possibility of the city giving the company a tax break to help make “high class” renovations for the low-income apartments in the city a possibility.
“We are an affordable housing developer and we work mainly in Montgomery County,” said Stephanie Roodman, senior project manager and legal counsel for Montgomery Housing, during a council meeting in May. “And we’re looking to develop more of a presence here in Hyattsville.”
The property Montgomery Housing owns is Parkview Manor Apartments on 38th Avenue and Roodeman said the housing partnership is looking to made some much needed improvements to the apartments.
The housing partnership took over Parkview Manor in 2007 after another nonprofit went bankrupt. The 53-unit, garden style complex would cost an estimated $3.5 million to renovate with all new kitchens, baths, plumbing and HVAC system. The goal is to have green features like EnergyStar appliances and brand new windows as well.
In addition, Roodman said, the developer also hosts preschools, homework clubs, summer enrichment programs and other community events at its various housing developments. Montgomery Housing believes dong so helps low-income families on multiple levels and strengthens the neighborhoods where the developments reside.
“And the community room will really, I think, serve as a focal point for this community in helping create strong networks for people within the building,” she said.
So far the developers have earned 4 percent tax credits from the state, Rental Housing Works Funds, committed tax credit syndication and a 40-year Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) approval from the county that says the county will forgo $687,544 in county tax revenue.
Still, Montgomery Housing needs further assistance to make its renovation goals a reality. The group is petitioning the city for tax relief from the city taxes of $15,000 per year for 15 years, totaling $225,000
“These types of projects are only possible because of the dedication of the local municipalities, state funds and federal funds,” Roodman said.
During the May 1 meeting, several members of the council asked about the logistics of renovations, moving tenants around and possible rent increases. Mayor Candace Hollingsworth asked if the improvements would increase the stock of affordable housing in the city, but Roodman said it is only improving, not increasing the stock.
During the Aug. 7 meeting, the council dove further into the possible costs to the city if a tax break is awarded. Hollingsworth focused on the program the county approved for the tax abatements and said she would like to see the city participate on a proportional level to the county.
“I would like to get some feedback from the council on having the abatement be $186,000, which would be at least proportionally, along the 40-year revenue from the project for 53 units and the proportion of our abatement against that 40 years would be in line with what the county’s is along the entire 40-year, even though they’re doing the entire 40-year abatement, but still keeping ours at 15,” she said.
The mayor’s proposal would come in at approximately $39,000 less than what Montgomery Housing had proposed, and some council members wanted to know how that would affect the renovation project.
Roodman said she would not be able give exact numbers on the affect a reduction in tax breaks would have, but said the abatement correlated directly to the amount of money the developer could borrow in bond proceeds to do the renovation.
“Whatever the difference is, that would be how much less we would be borrowing,” she said. “Any amount of the abatement allows us to do more renovation to the property, so we’re appreciative of the city’s support in whatever form seems to be appropriate.”
Hollingsworth said she would like to see the impact before the council makes a final decision, but reiterated she would like to see the city on a comparable percentage to the county, rather than at a higher one.
In contrast, Councilwoman Shani Warner said she does not have strong feelings about what percentage the city comes in at, and would like to support the renovation project.
“Obviously you want as much as you can get and we want to keep it as low as possible, given our other priorities. And we’ll have to meet somewhere,” Warner said.
If the city council decides to move forward with the tax break, a public hearing would be held to gauge public opinion on the city agreeing to a reduction in city property taxes.
Still, Roodman said renovations are anticipated to begin this fall and will be done in tiers to ensure as little disruption to current residents as possible. Roodman said the process should take a year.