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Beloit Housing Authority seeks stimulus

Sean Ryan
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The Beloit Housing Authority wants stimulus money for a project to renovate 65 apartments, but federal rules will force the agency to miss the first round of applications.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development this week announced public housing authorities can compete for $995 million in project money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Most of the money — $600 million — is for green projects, and authorities can apply for the money at any time. But the remaining $395 million will be awarded based on two rounds of competition.

Authorities that do not qualify as a HUD “high performer” cannot compete in the first round and must try for a chunk of whatever money is left over.

HUD ranks authorities according to 14 standards, including the number of residents on the waiting list for HUD assistance, accurate verification of the incomes of families receiving assistance, timely inspection of housing and prompt repair to buildings with problems. Authority scores on the 14 standards are compiled on a 100-point scale. Housing authorities scoring 90 or more are ranked as high performers.

The federal agency upgraded the Beloit Housing Authority to high-performer status last year. But HUD is using its 2006 and 2007 rankings when deciding how authorities rank for stimulus competition, said Tom Landgraf, principal at Fitchburg-based Dimension Development LLC, Beloit’s co-developer on the 65-unit apartment project.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “the fact that they’ve come up isn’t going to help them with the first round.”

It would have been better if HUD let housing authorities apply to have their most recent ranking apply, Landgraf said. However, that would probably create a paperwork nightmare for the federal agency.

The Beloit Housing Authority oversees 131 units of public housing and eventually wants to renovate all of them, said Stephen Gregg, assistant city manager and executive director of the Beloit Community Development Authority. The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority last month awarded Beloit Housing Authority $11 million in tax credits to renovate the 65 apartments, but that will cover only about three-fourths of the project cost, he said.

The authority will apply for stimulus money and federal HOME bank loans to try to cover the rest of the project budget, Gregg said.

The authorities ranked as high-performers are probably going to get most of the money that will be awarded through the application rounds, said Julie McGovern, a partner in Reno & Cavanaugh PLLC, Washington, D.C.

Nonetheless, authorities can always pursue the $600 million for green projects that is separate from the two application rounds.

Landgraf said there are many building-efficiency improvements that will be made through the Beloit apartment renovations, so he’s looking to see if the project qualifies for the green-building money. Rank as a high performer has no bearing on competing for the green-building HUD money, he said.

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