Senior housing project application rejected

The Ohio Housing Authority has rejected a grant application from Washington County Job and Family Services and the Buckeye Hills Regional Council for the funding of low-income senior housing.

According to Flite Freimann, director of Job and Family Services, the project still could happen.

During the Feb. 15 Washington County commissioners meeting, Freimann introduced a plan for low-income senior housing to be built on land adjacent to the County Home on County House Lane. Freimann’s organization partnered with Buckeye Hills to apply for a grant from the Ohio Housing Authority in order to finance the 84-unit project. The grant required the partners to take on a private investor that would help finance the construction. In return, the investor would receive a guaranteed 9 percent return on their investment over 15 years. The Ohio Housing Authority rejected the application.

Freimann said the reason for the rejection has caused Job and Family Services and the Buckeye Hills Regional Council to change their focus while still keeping their eye on the low-income senior housing project.

“It’s kind of a catch-22 situation,” he said.

Freimann said the reason the application was not approved was because neither of the partners had experience in the creation of housing development projects. He said the partners have a plan in order to get the background required, though.

“We’re going to build a smaller housing project,” he said.

Still in the earliest of stages of development, Freimann said the partnership will now look to build either transient housing or housing for recovering drug and alcohol addicts, but on a smaller scale than the original senior project. He said the partners will be teaming up with the Washington County Behavioral Health Board in order to find out how to meet the needs of the people requiring housing.

Freimann said he would still be using the Ohio Housing Authority for funding, but through a different grant.

“We were going for the more competitive 9 percent tax credit grant,” he said. “For the (new project) we will be going for a 4 percent tax credit grant that doesn’t have as many restrictions.”

Freimann said once the smaller project is complete, he will turn his attention back to the low-income senior housing proposal.

David Browne, executive director of the Washington County Behavioral Health Board, said low-income housing in the county is becoming needed more every day, but it’s hard to compete with more metropolitan areas of the state.

“We don’t have the big agencies like Cleveland and Cincinnati,” he said.

Browne said those agencies have done housing projects in the past and have built a relationship with grant providers in the state, putting organizations in more rural areas at a disadvantage. But Browne said that he and Freimann will continue to work toward getting more of the much needed low-income housing into the county.

The Buckeye Hills Regional Council didn’t respond to calls for comment Friday.

At a glance

•The Ohio Housing Authority rejected an application for a grant to fund low-income senior housing in the county.

•The application was denied due to a lack of experience in housing projects by the partnering entities, Washington County Job and Family Services and the Buckeye Hills Regional Council.

•Plans are being made for a smaller housing project for either homeless people or those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction in hopes of gaining the experience needed for the larger low-income senior housing project.

Source: Flite Freimann, director of Job and Family Services.