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State-Funded Housing Development The Groves Holds Grand Opening in Covington


OCD-DRU Executive Director Pat Forbes (left) joined with other officials for the Grand Opening
of The Groves development in Covington.

Sept. 27, 2011

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Representatives from the Louisiana Office of Community Development – Disaster Recovery Unit joined with local officials and representatives from Renaissance Neighborhood Development Corporation – a subsidiary of the Volunteers of America – and First NBC Bank in a grand opening ceremony held today at The Groves at Mile Branch Creek housing development in Covington.

The Groves at Mile Branch Creek is a new construction, mixed-income community that offers 94 units of one, two and three bedroom rental housing; 65 of the units are affordable and 29 are market-rate. The development is located in the West 30s neighborhood, a predominantly impoverished African-American community.

To help finance the $20.2 million project, the developer used $8.7 million in Community Development Block Grant funding from a pool of federal disaster recovery money earmarked for low-to-moderate income households, which was “piggybacked” onto equity generated through the sale of Low Income Housing Tax Credits administered through the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency.

OCD-DRU Executive Director Pat Forbes said, “The use of disaster recovery funding in the construction of this new, mixed-income community provides critically needed workforce housing that is embraced by the Covington community and will be a catalyst in the redevelopment of the West 30s neighborhood.”

Renaissance Neighborhood Development Corporation Executive Director Victor Smeltz said, “The financial support provided by the Office of Community Development enabled us to effectively leverage a number of other private and public sources of capital to build a community with quality housing affordable to families with a broad range of incomes. In fact, this development, along with other local efforts by Volunteers of America, has become a catalyst for helping to encourage the redevelopment of the adjacent neighborhood.”

The Groves at Mile Branch Creek in Covington

The development spans 15 acres and consists of 24 buildings, including a two-acre park with community center, computer room, exercise facility and management office.  In addition, 35 single-family homes for first-time homebuyers will be privately financed and built in part by Habitat for Humanity.

Other funding sources include First NBC Community Development LLC, which committed a total of $5.6 million through an equity investment made possible by the purchase of the tax credits from the LHFA; funds provided by the LHFA from the 1602 Exchange and Tax Credit Assistance Program (TCAP); and $1 million in a permanent mortgage from First NBC.

In addition, $3.8 million for infrastructure construction of streets and underground utilities was made possible in part by a $1.4 million CDBG grant provided by St. Tammany Parish.

Louisiana has awarded a total of 57 Piggyback projects in areas of the state most impacted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, amounting to more than $580 million. In total, the Piggyback program will create more than 7,500 rental units to help replace housing stock lost in the storms. Nearly 6,100 units, or approximately 80 percent, will be built in the New Orleans metro area.

The Disaster Recovery Unit within the Office of Community Development is dedicated to helping Louisiana’s citizens recover from hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. As the state’s central point for hurricane recovery, the OCD-DRU manages the most extensive rebuilding effort in American history, working closely with local, state and federal partners to ensure that Louisiana recovers safer and stronger than before.