Every brick and stick of new rental housing in the Washington area in the past five years has been built with the assistance of federal programs the Reagan administration plans to kill, local government officials and builders say.
The end of one program--the "Ginnie Mae Tandem" administered by the Government National Mortgage Association--will doom construction of badly needed rental apartments here, they say.
This is not only low-income housing--though the program generally involves a requirement that a certain percentage of the housing go to low-income families--but housing that is rented by middle-income persons, as well.
The Reagan administration as part of its fiscal 1983 budget has proposed that the Ginnie Mae tandem program be ended after funds appropriated for fiscal 1982 are obligated. Under the tandem program, builders of Section 8 low-income housing or of projects in distressed areas receive financing at 7 1/2 percent interest rates, with the government providing the heavy subsidy necessary to bring market rates down to that level. The funds can be used for construction or substantial rehabilitation.
The rate this year on the tandem program for distressed areas is to go to 9 3/4 percent, still far below the 20 to 23 percent most builders have been paying for unsubsidized financing, while that for Section 8 stays at 7 1/2 percent.
The competition is fierce for what is left of the tandem funding, with several projects in this area hinging on a government lottery next month which will determine which plans get the financing subsidies.
Among these is a 123-unit project along the 14th Street renewal corridor between Fairmont and Girard by the Horning Brothers developers, on a city-awarded site.
"There's a lot of money hanging out there, a lot of potential housing jobs that are just sitting with a no-go. There are that many jobs that will not come to pass," said Joseph Horning.
"It's really a turning point in our career as a residential builder," said Horning, who for the past several years has built only rental housing in the District using tandem funds. When the program ends, he will stop building homes and probably will turn to commercial, office and retail construction, he said.
In the past few years, Horning has built about 600 rental units at five different projects in the District under the tandem program. These include the Stoneridge I and II projects at Minnesota Avenue and Anacostia Road, the Heights I and II in Northeast near Catholic University, and Benning Court at 17th and Benning Road, he said.
The 176-unit Latrobe at 15th Street and Rhode Island Avenue NW is the only other new rental apartment building in the city and also was built with tandem funds by the National Corporation for Housing Partnerships, Horning said.
There is about $1.9 billion available for Ginnie Mae tandem funding for fiscal 1982. About half of this is going to be used for approved projects which did not receive funding last year, including some in this area. The other half is to be allocated by a lottery which is in progress now, with the results to be announced March 12.
Probably about one of every five or six lottery participants--all with approved projects on the drawing board--will get their funding. On Tuesday, the first day that builders could register for the lottery, Ginnie Mae received about $1 billion in applications--just about what is available for all projects to be selected by in the lottery--and another $4 to $5 billion was expected, said Ginnie Mae official Louis Gasper.
The administration knows the end of the program also will result in many approved low-income housing projects never being built, and this is part of its attempt to stop subsidizing housing construction. The fiscal 1983 budget counts on this, in fact, factoring in the saved funds from recapture of the projects that won't be started.
Some of the projects in this area that are vying for the limited amount of 1982 funds, according to local officials and builders, are these:
The Colonial Village project in Arlington near the Courthouse, one of the largest garden apartment complexes in the area. The Arlington Housing Corp. is trying to buy one part of it from Mobil Corp., and a tenant-owned cooperative wants to buy another portion. Neither will be able to do so without Ginnie Mae funding for rehabilitation, said Melodee Bawben, Arlington County rents assistance and development superviser.
Arlington View Terrace on S. Rolfe Street in south Arlington, also being done by the Arlington Housing Corp.
The Knightsbridge project off Glebe Road, by the Wesley Development Corp.
The troubled South Laurel project, formerly Pumpkin Hill, with 600 units off the Baltimore-Washington Parkway at Route 197 and Laurel. This rehabilitation project went bankrupt, but has been awarded to a Boston firm by HUD for a Section 8 project, said Earl Morgan, Prince George's County housing director.
The Paint Branch project in Montgomery County with several hundred units in the White Oak area off New Hampshire Ave. and Rte. 29.
The last phase of 48 units at the Cinnamon Run apartments at Connecticut and BelPre Road. The first 288 units at Cinnamon Run, a project by the Artery Organization, is nearing completion now, having been funded earlier with Ginnie Mae tandem money, said James Welu, Montgomery County manager of mortgage finance programs for the county's Housing Opportunities Commission.
Welu said that Montgomery County also has two other projects that are virtually guaranteed tandem funding because they were among those left from last year. These are the 152-unit Americana Aspen Hill by Carl Freeman & Associates on Georgia Avenue south of BelPre Road and the 109-unit Londonderry apartments being done by Ralph Duffy in the Gaithersburg area off Rte. 270.
The local officials say they want to work with the developers with plans on the boards if the Ginnie Mae funds do not come through, but they don't know how they will be able to afford the assistence necessary to get them built.
The county cannot make up for what it will lose by the federally funded tandem program, and the lowest-income residents will suffer, Welu said. There are now 9,000 persons on the county's waiting list for low-income housing. The local government will only be able to help the relatively well-off in the future, those with incomes of $12,000 to $22,000, because the county does not have the resources to fully subsidize rents for those making less than $12,000, he said.
In Prince George's County, housing director Morgan says there are 1,300 families on the waiting list for low-income rental housing--and the number is only this low because they closed the list two years ago. With the current low-income housing in the county, it will take another five years to accommodate those already on the list, he said.