Bell to receive share of more than $12.5 million for affordable housing units

Published 7:23 am Friday, January 22, 2021

Kentucky Housing Corporation

Kentucky Housing Corporation (KHC) has been awarded more than $12.5 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits (Housing Credits) and other program resources to provide communities throughout Kentucky more affordable housing options. Among those is Cumberland River RHOAR Center in Bell County.

With 52 units, the Cumberland River RHOAR Center will provide long-term housing for people recovering from substance abuse. Unlike some recovery programs in Kentucky, Cumberland River RHOAR will offer medically-assisted treatment as well as counseling for those suffering from mental or behavioral disorders.

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“We are very enthusiastic about this project, because it provides holistic treatment,” said Garry Watkins, president of Wabuck Development Co. Inc. “We have always provided affordable housing to those in need, but projects like these go beyond simply improving people’s living conditions. This is life-saving.”

The goal is to help these residents become contributing members of the community, helping to increase the tax base, Watkins said. The project will also help reunify some families that were separated due to drug addiction. Of the 52 units, 12 will be two-bedroom apartments designated for families.

It also will have a crisis/detox shelter for those in need and a separate building with a community room where residents can attend group meetings and vocational training and workforce rehabilitation from Southeastern Kentucky Community and Technical College.

“When you try to accomplish something this big, there are a lot of agencies, a lot of partners helping you,” Watkins said. “In Bell County, there is a lot of unemployment, but also a shortage of skilled workers. Local employers are partnering with the community college to help the residents gain the skills they need to fill those open positions.”

This year, KHC received 31 applications requesting more than $29 million in Housing Credits and was able to fund 14 projects with $12,518,147 of 2021 Housing Credits in conjunction with $1,240,000 of HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) and $840,000 of Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) funds. These funding awards will result in the preservation and creation of over 791 affordable housing units throughout the commonwealth.

“Housing is a basic need that many Kentuckians feared they would lose in the last year, and projects like these 14 help ensure that this need will be met into the future,” said Winston Miller, executive director. “Our homes now serve many functions. They are offices, schools, telehealth waiting rooms, playgrounds, and entertainment spaces, and they allowed us all to safely shelter in place and care for ourselves and our families. These 14 projects will expand affordable housing opportunities throughout the state, enabling people to find stable, secure homes in the communities they love.”

While resources for affordable housing can be sparse, KHC now offers dedicated money in its Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) that incentivizes innovative housing concepts in the Commonwealth. Three of the projects awarded achieve this objective.

“Many of these projects were concepts that developers had been exploring for a while, and now they have funding to make their ideas a reality,” said Tracy Thurston, managing director of multifamily programs. “Incorporating multiple partners and resources in the area, these projects strengthen the communities where they are located and improve the quality of life for the specific needs and populations they serve.”