$30M in loans for improvements: Bloomington Housing Authority’s Crestmont Community

At its Wednesday meeting, the city council approved the final step in a process that will lend $30M to an entity created by Bloomington Housing Authority (BHA), called Bloomington RAD II, LP.

The money will be used to make  improvements to the 196-unit public housing complex on the city’s northeast side.

A preliminary step in the process was approved by the city council in February.

As part of the improvements, apartments will be reconfigured to accommodate wheelchairs. Safety features will be added. All the apartments will get new flooring, new kitchen cabinets, countertops, dishwashers, and washers and dryers.

Apartments will also get high efficiency furnaces, and air conditioner condensers, new windows, new roofs, and site lighting, according to BHA executive director, Amber Skoby.

The common acronym “RAD” stands for Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), which is a program operated through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The RAD conversions allow for an infusion of cash that allows for crucial renovations to be done on a shorter timeline.

The RAD program also converts the affected public housing units to a voucher system.

According to the memo to the city council from assistant city attorney Larry Allen, because the city of Bloomington will issue the revenue notes, that will save a 1-percent financing fee, compared to an approach where Bloomington RAD II would seek the revenue notes through Indiana Community Housing Development Authority (ICHDA).

The financing relies on available tax credits from the ICHDA. Bloomington RAD II would assume total liability for note payments and indemnify the city of Bloomington, and it would have no effect on the City’s constitutional debt limit, according to Allen’s memo. The idea is that the city of Bloomington acts only as a “conduit” through which Bloomington RAD II receives equity for the project in the form of tax credits.

The BHA’s nonprofit, Summit Hill Community Development Corporation, is a part of the ownership structure for Bloomington RAD II.

The name of the entity that receives the funds—with its Roman numeral II—is a tip-off that this is not the first time BHA has taken this approach. In early 2020, the city council approved a similar process for Bloomington RAD I, to undertake improvements at Reverend Butler Apartments and Walnut Woods.

At that time, Skoby, told the city council that Crestmont would be the next and final step in the conversion for all of Bloomington’s public housing units to a voucher-based system.

At February’s city council meeting, Skoby described one kind of renovation that will change the unit mix at Crestmont. “We’re adding eight one-bedroom units, by converting some existing three-bedroom townhomes,” she told the council. Skoby said there’s not a huge demand for three-bedroom units. She added, “But we see a tremendous demand for one-bedrooms.”

Also as a part of the planned renovations, the size of Crestmont’s community building will be almost doubled.

At a previous committee meeting, councilmembers asked whether solar panels were included in the planned renovations. At Wednesday’s council meeting, Skoby told councilmembers that solar panels are planned to be installed on 35 of Crestmont’s 55 buildings. The buildings where solar panels are to be installed have south-facing roofs.

Responding to a question asked at Wednesday’s council meeting, Skoby said that the recent installation of security cameras at Crestmont was not a part of the RAD improvements.

The cameras were funded by a safety and security grant that BHA applied for from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. The security grant also covered some street lighting at Crestmont, Skoby said.