Houma Council Approves Lease Of School For Apartment Project

HOUMA, LA (AP) — If a New Orleans-based developer can secure necessary tax credits within the next year, 100 affordable housing apartments will become available to senior citizens near downtown Houma.

         The Courier’s Chris Leblanc reports the Terrebonne Parish Council approved a preliminary lease agreement Wednesday with Renaissance Neighborhood Development Corp., for the old Houma Elementary School buildings and property.

         Working with the Terrebonne Housing and Human Services Department, Renaissance plans to renovate existing buildings and add an additional apartment building to provide affordable housing for parish residents age 62 and up who qualify financially.

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         The terms following a one year option period include a $5,000 annual lease payment for the first five year and $10,000 per year for the remainder of the 30-year lease.

         "All we're trying to cover is for insurance and things like that. It wasn't designed where we were going to make money off the deal. We just want to get the housing completed in there," Housing and Human Services Director Darrel Waire said at Wednesday's meeting.

         Renaissance is seeking low-income and elderly housing tax credits, historical tax credits and loans to cover construction, which will cost $17 million to $20 million.

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         Even if all of the money comes through following the March 16 application deadline, Parish President Michel Claudet said Renaissance would still need $5.5 million in gap money to reach the estimated project budget.

         "They've approached the Council on Aging and requested some assistance with that gap funding to be able to make this a reality," Claudet said.

         Estimates suggest the Council on Aging could build 40 housing units with $5.5 million, Claudet said. But if it works alongside Renaissance, the council could help build over 100 units in a prime location, he said.

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         If money for the project comes through, construction is projected to begin in January 2016 with doors opening in February 2017.

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