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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of May 22 - 28, 2002


Gourlay reports on IHFA rules on obtaining funds for housing

Express Staff Writer

Applying to the Idaho Housing and Finance Association to help pay for affordable housing is a lot like playing Dungeons and Dragons, according to Ketchum City Councilman Baird Gourlay.

"You donít play the first time and win," he said.

Gourlay and Housing Director Gates Kellett attended a housing and finance association meeting May 13 and discovered several areas where Ketchum and the Blaine County Housing Authority went awry with an application for housing tax credits and low-interest loans for a proposed town center affordable housing project. The housing authorityís application was denied late last month.

But the trip was encouraging, Gourlay said.

"In unspoken words, they wanted to have something up here that is in the limelight, something nice they can show off," he said. "They were very encouraging. They were trying to help us the whole time. You could tell they definitely wanted us to come back and apply again.

"I was very enthusiastic after meeting with them."

On the positive side, Gourlay said Ketchum and the housing authorityís application ranked second on a points scale in which 259 was the winning application. The town center proposal scored around 250, and the lowest scoring application came in at 204, he said.

Additionally, the town center qualified for $2.1 million in federal tax credits, which comprised the lionís share of the budget needed to build the project. But problems with a requested gap loan and low-interest home loan undermined the entire proposal.

The biggest problem, Gourlay said, was with the housing and finance association gap loan, which has an unspoken limit of between $7,000 and $8,000 per unit.

The city had asked for $500,000, which boiled down to about $25,000 per unit.

"That gap was considerable," Gourlay said, adding that the association prefers to spread the gap loan around the state, and Balmoral in Hailey was a recent recipient.

Additionally, a $500,000 low-interest home loan depended partially on the number of units conforming to Housing and Urban Development standards.

"We needed eight HUD units to get over $500,000, which we could have done if we knew it," Gourlay said. "We only had three HUD units in there."

In general, HUD has different and more restrictive income and housing requirements.

Finally, Gourlay said the project lost ground because the proposed first floor commercial space was not leased, which prompted assignment of a 20 percent vacancy rate.

"If we had gotten a lease, we would have had a 5 percent vacancy rate, which would have covered that shortfall" in the proposed mortgage.

Finally, Gourlay said it "absolutely" helped to discuss with the housing and finance association members the problems Ketchum faces regarding affordable housing. He said he and Kellett explained that lack of housing contributes to Highway 75 congestion and loss of community in Ketchum.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.