The $12 million price tag for a new affordable housing development, Homes at Thackston park, at West College avenue recently generated a firestorm on Facebook.
With 39 units, that comes out to more than $300,000 per unit, many readers said. Others asked why government agencies would spend that much money on housing when it could be spent elsewhere, others asked.
The answer is — it’s not government agencies who are doing the spending, or who determine the price tag.
For the most part, the federal government stopped building its own housing developments in the mid-1980’s, Richard Fox, executive director of the York Housing Authority, told me. The housing assistance provided by the government today largely comes in the form of Section 8 housing vouchers, which are direct-to-landlord payments made by the government for low-income families who have qualified for the program.
This means the burden of building affordable housing units has fallen to the private sector. To spur development, the federal government created a tax credit program that allows developers of low-income housing units to claim rebates on their federal taxes.
Homes at Thackston Park and the George Street Commons are two such projects in York, and in each case, the developer determined the vision for the project and the final price tag. Both communities charge residents adjusted rent based on their income in order to cover operating costs.
Local agencies did contribute more than $1.7 million. Here’s a breakdown of those funds:
- $750,000 from the City of York — HUD home funds (federal grant money)
- $500,000 from the York Housing Authority, which is a state-created entity that receives some federal funding.
- $450,000 from York Housing Corporation, a coalition of private companies. You can find their website here: http://yorkareahg.org/about.
- $55,000 from the York/Adams Health Choices management Unit, a medicaid program.