The City of Wichita plans to renovate all of its public housing units beginning next summer.
The city’s Housing Authority is taking part in a federally funded program that will provide a new financing model for about $60 million worth of building rehabilitation.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) started the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program to help local housing authorities complete substantial renovations with long-term funding.
John E. Hall, director of Wichita Housing and Community Services, says single-family homes will be taken down to the foundation and rebuilt.
"It’s going to be what I’m calling an 'extreme makeover' for the neighborhoods where the houses are located," Hall says. "It’s going to be a huge strategy to minimize and reduce urban blight and it’s going to make our communities feel stronger and proud."
Hall says the houses will become more energy efficient and environmentally-conscious with new plumbing and electrical systems.
"I’ve been in a lot of our houses," Hall says. "I see the work orders on a daily basis on the needs of the houses, and I’m really surprised the houses are still functional."
The city has 578 single- and multi-family public housing properties across the city. Most are more than 40 years old.
"So we’ve replaced roofing and some of the things that are urgent health and safety concerns, but we’ve never done anything this extreme," Hall says. "Basically taking all the houses down to the foundation."
The renovation project is expected to take about two years.
This is the first time the Wichita Housing Authority has been able to leverage government funding with private financing to service debt on public housing properties.
Hall says the city will use 4 percent tax-exempt bond financing for about $40 million and private lenders for an additional $20 million. The RAD program offers a 20-year housing assistance payment contract to service the debt.
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