Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee

Subcommittee on Housing and Transportation

Hearing on the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit

Prepared Testimony of Mr. Richard K. Barnhart
Penn Rose Properties, Inc.

2:30p.m., Wendesday, May 12, 1999

Good afternoon, my name is Richard Barnhart; I am the president of Pennrose Properties. Pennrose has been involved in the development, ownership and management of affordable housing for over 25 years. We are currently active in 5 states. I am here today to testify in support of the increase in the cap for low income housing tax credits. Since the inception of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program, often known as LITC, in 1986 as part of the Tax Reform Act of that year, we have utilized the LITC to achieve important results. At the core of the program, is the fundamental concept of private and public partnership. The LITC program, more than any housing program before it or since, has relied upon the private sector heavily to accomplish goals that were outlined by Congress. Private for-profit and non-profit developers work with their individual states in accessing the LITC and utilizing it for development of affordable housing. Our company, Pennrose Properties, has used these low income tax credits in dozenís of transactions to produce affordable housing for families and seniors. After completing the development of housing using low income housing tax credits, the apartment complexes are then managed most often by private management companies who report their results to the private investors who have purchased and therefore helped fund the development of the housing. State housing agencies oversee and monitor the development and management of the facilities to ensure against fraud and abuse. Never in the history of housing programs has there been such a successful program. I have brought a few examples of some of the developments that we have worked on to share with you.

The first photo is of a development known as Hopeís Crossing located in Toms River, NJ. This is a 125-unit development made available for general occupancy. Its 2 and 3 bedroom units provide a home for working families at reasonable rents. In 1997, this development was the recipient of the New Jersey Apartment Association Community of the Year award for "Best New Project of the Year". It was selected from among a field of competitors, that included market rate and luxury developments produced by national housing developers. This facility certainly illustrates that affordable doesnít have to mean ugly. Developments such as this create environments where low income persons have pride in their community and are not treated like second class citizens.

The second example is this before photograph of a property, which we acquired from the City of Philadelphia who had taken possession of it after it had long been abandoned. Before rehabilitation, this property was like a cancer spreading its blight to a surrounding solid homeownership neighborhood. Utilizing both historic and low income tax credits together, the property was rehabilitated and is currently today home to 80 families and elderly persons. The community room that was created as part of this development has become a focal point for a neighborhood watch program, after school programs and other worthwhile activities.

The third example is of a property located in Chester, Pennsylvania. Senator Santorum has visited Chester many times and has focused on breathing life back into this historically depressed area. This particular development involved the conversion of an abandoned school building into apartments for working families. In addition, some new construction on the site added to the facility, which now encompasses a total of 36 two and three bedroom units.

The fourth example is of a property located on Parkside Avenue in Philadelphia directly across from Memorial Hall, a facility built in 1876 to celebrate our countryís Centennial. This property was in an obvious state of disrepair and we again utilized both low income tax credits as well as historic tax credits to facilitate the rehabilitation. The completed development provides safe and affordable housing for 42 low-income families and elderly persons.

Since the inception of the LITC program in 1986 there has been no indexing for inflation and the buying power of that credit has been seriously eroded. Although the support for this program by corporate America has resulted in greater leveraging of the available resources, demand continues to out strip supply. The bills under consideration by Congress, that I would hope to help convince you to support, would increase the amount of low income tax credit back to the buying power that it had in 1986 and to index it in the future for inflation.

As much as my words and pictures of pretty buildings might be able to do that, it is the effects of this program on individual people that best illustrates its value. Today I am honored to have with me just one of the thousands of people who have been positively affected by the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program. I would like to introduce Mrs. Brown, a resident of the Dunlap School, a historic rehabilitation that Pennrose completed using low income tax credits. Thank you.

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