Pottawatomie County Commissioners have donated 12 lots of land to the city of Shawnee in their special meeting Monday, Dec 9, and those sites are being eyed as funding is being sought for a proposed low-income housing project.

According to Mike Little of Mike D. Little Construction Company Inc., now that the county donated the lots to the city, the city will now consider donating or auctioning them for use in a housing project proposed by Sooner Affordable Housing, LLC and the Central Oklahoma Community Action Agency (COCAA).

Little said Sooner Affordable Housing is a development company he, his wife Connie and Norman Seaberg are forming to partner up with COCCA.

Little explained Sooner Affordable Housing and COCCA will submit an application January 9, 2020 to the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency in hopes of receiving credits for the project through the Low Income House Tax Credit Program (LIHTC).

The program, Little said awards credits through state historic credit, state credit, federal credit and federal historic credit.

"(The project) will consist of 22 units in the old American National Bank building … on the corner of Broadway and Main Street," Little said. "That building will be utilized by COCAA for their offices. It will allow them to consolidate their programs to one building."

Little said COCAA will use the first two floors and the back annex for all their programs including their transportation program.

According to Little, COCAA and Sooner Affordable Housing are hoping to receive seven to eight million dollars through LIHTC for this entire project.

To fund the apartment units and COCAA's offices, Little said the non-profit and Sooner Affordable Housing have competed phase one of the process to get the old American National Bank building on the National Registry of Historic Places.

This, Little said is part of the National Historic Preservation ACT and will give COCAA and Sooner Affordable Housing the state historic credits they are seeking from the LIHTC program.

Little explained they have gone through the first approval phase to get on the Registry and are continuing to Phase two and three.

In addition to COCAA, Little said, the third through sixth floors will be used for 22 one and two bedroom apartments for low-income residents.

As part of the same project, Little is hoping to develop additional low-income housing on the the 12 vacant lots around Shawnee that have been donated by the commissioners.

If the project gets its funding, Little said COCAA will use those lots and another donated lot to build 13 new three bedroom houses, along with parks and other entities.

"Ideally, they can either live in these units forever and have a nice quality of life or they can use it as a stepping stone to use it to get to better housing," Little said.

Little explained the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency should reveal their decision on funding the project in May of 2020, and if approved, the first steps of the project should begin in Fall of 2020.

Since the funding would be coming from the OHFA, Little explained the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will monitor the project.

"The federal law that is administered by the IRS is for 15 years and at the end of 15 years the credits expire for the initial investors...and so the project goes back to the developers, which in this case would be the COCAA entity," Little said.

According to Little, Sooner Affordable Housing would own 49 percent of the project and COCAA will own 51 percent.

Little said since COCCA would be the majority owner, Sooner Affordable Housing would give full ownership of the properties to COCAA after 15 years because they benefit most from the office space in the old American National Bank building.

Little explained if the county gives the lots to the city and the city donates those lots, Sooner Affordable Housing and COCAA will take lots that the county and city most likely can't use anymore and use them to build affordable housing.

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