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February 8, 2019

Albuquerque’s support for affordable housing is a national inspiration

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By Brian Dowling

Like many cities across the U.S., Albuquerque faces challenges in protecting and preserving its supply of affordable housing for working families and senior citizens in the midst of rising demand.

The annual household income needed to afford a two-bedroom rental home at fair market rent in New Mexico is $33,062, yet more than 60,000 Albuquerque households have an annual income below $25,000. The Albuquerque Housing Authority (AHA) only has the funding capacity to serve less than 10 percent of this population, and there’s a shortage of 20,000 affordable units in the city.

That’s why the strong leadership provided by organizations such as AHA, YES Housing Inc. and the Greater Albuquerque Housing Partnership is a national inspiration in finding new and innovative solutions to address these challenges.

Two years ago, our firm, The Community Development Trust (CDT), announced a $25 million joint venture partnership with YES Housing to preserve 342 affordable housing units for senior citizens and people with disabilities in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Roswell. The Albuquerque property is Brentwood Apartments, a 122-unit complex built in 1978 to serve very low-income seniors and special needs tenants. CDT and YES set aside over $600,000 in capital improvements.

The transaction, which represented our first investment in New Mexico, reflects the shared commitment of CDT and Albuquerque leaders to ensure affordable housing opportunities remain available now and for the city’s long-term future.

Earlier this year, Albuquerque earned national acclaim within the affordable housing industry for its successful efforts to expand housing options that serve low-income families, the elderly and people with disabilities.

GAHP Executive Director Felipe Rael, Mayor Tim Keller, Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley and their legislative colleagues deserve praise for opening the Sterling Downtown Apartment Complex in the heart of the city’s downtown.

The property’s architecturally stunning modern design and diverse amenities dispel the common perception of affordable housing as undesirable. In addition to offering 107 units – 90 percent of which are rent-restricted or income-based – the complex features a fitness center, rooftop deck with citywide views, solar-panel-covered parking and an internet cafe lounge.

AHA, meanwhile, celebrated the rehabilitation of the Rio Vista Apartments, the city’s first new acquisition of an apartment building funded with Low Income Housing Tax Credits and the first expansion of affordable rental units owned by AHA since 1986.

Albuquerque’s visionary investments in these properties come at a time when developers around the country are purchasing affordable housing developments and transforming them into higher-end market-rate apartments with rents that are unattainable for many working families and seniors. The public support of high quality affordable housing in Albuquerque demonstrates that it’s possible to combat “not in my backyard” attitudes from critics across the U.S. who would otherwise severely limit the housing options of many lower or moderate income households.

CDT and industry leaders applaud Albuquerque’s forward-thinking strategies to retain and promote new high-quality affordable housing. We encourage more communities to take note of the “Duke City’s” progressive accomplishments.

Brian Dowling is the Chief Investment Officer for CDT.

About CDT

The Community Development Trust (“CDT”) is a national lender and investor in affordable communities. Working with local, regional, and national partners, CDT makes long-term equity investments and originates and acquires long-term mortgages. In its sixteen years, CDT has invested over $1.2 billion in debt and equity capital to properties in 44 states and regions — helping to preserve and create nearly 47,000 units of affordable housing. CDT is a private real estate investment trust (REIT), a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), an approved Fannie Mae affordable housing lender, and a member of the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York (FHLBNY).