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The Daily Tar Heel

Oversight forces Chapel Hill to lose housing bid

An application asking for tax credit funds for new affordable housing projects, submitted by Downtown Housing Improvement Co. in Raleigh, was thrown out by the N.C. Housing Finance Agency because of an oversight in the application.

DHIC, which is partnering with the town of Chapel Hill to build the complexes on Legion Road, failed to include a commitment letter.

The problem came as no big surprise to the leaders of the project, who have experience in development.

DHIC’s president Gregg Warren expressed his regret in a press release about a week ago, calling the omission “an unfortunate setback.”

“It is not unusual to take two or three years for such projects to move forward,” Warren said. “It would not be the first development that was unsuccessful the first time it was submitted for funding.”

The town allotted 8.5 acres of land in the Ephesus Fordham District for the project, which would include 84 housing units for working families in one complex and 60 units for senior citizens in another.

Chapel Hill Town Council member Sally Greene said the town also expected setbacks, just not because of an oversight.

“It was never a sure deal,” she said. “Obviously we had hoped that it would succeed the first time around.”

Greene said the Council will have to discuss what the next step will be, but the town will likely want to apply again. DHIC has already made plans to apply for the project again in January 2015.

Delores Bailey, executive director of EmPowerment Inc., a Chapel Hill-based organization that connects people to affordable housing, said the project is important for the town, which has struggled to provide affordable housing for low-income residents in the face of rising costs.

“The process is so long, and it’s really quite daunting,” she said. “They have been really scrambling to get it together.”

As many as 60 families were recently forced to move out of their homes after several complexes in the Chapel Hill area stopped accepting Section 8 vouchers, which are part of a program designed to help low-income families, the elderly and the disabled afford private housing.

Bailey said she is confident DHIC’s project will continue.

“I know they’ll pick right back up and start again,” Bailey said. “It has to happen. It has to.”

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