$86M overhaul planned to Dayton public housing high-rises, apartments

Dayton’s public housing authority plans to seek private investment to help fund $86 million in renovations to its housing.

Greater Dayton Premier Management is participating in a federal program that will let the public housing authority maintain ownership and local oversight of a variety of its buildings — representing about 669 apartments — while becoming less dependent on federal funding, said Jennifer Heapy, CEO.

Nearly 6,500 people are on waiting lists for local public housing help.

GDPM has 73 housing sites, and the average age of its apartments is 40 years old. The cost to modernize all of GDPM’s properties exceeds $134 million, a study said, while the agency receives about $5 million each year for capital improvement projects.

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The federal government has authorized GDPM to convert four high-rises and a variety of smaller apartment buildings it owns into the project-based Section 8 housing program.

“This (program) is really reflective of HUD wanting to get out of ownership of public housing,” said Heapy, referring to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Private investors and tax credits will help fund updating or replacing the housing, according to the GDPM.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) granted GDPM approval to participate in its Rental Assistance Demonstration program.

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Under the program, GDPM can move some of its properties into the Section 8 program, which provides people with vouchers, or payments, to live in privately owned housing.

The conversions will allow private capital to fund renovating or replacing public housing, which will benefit from tax credits to help provide subsidized rent to tenants, officials said.

An assessment completed in 2011 concluded modernizing all of GDPM’s properties would cost $134 million.

The agency is waiting for a new physical-needs assessment to be completed to determine if the buildings it wants to convert should be renovated or demolished and replaced.

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The first phase targets three high rises: The Metropolitan in the Grafton Hill area (77 apartments), the Wentworth in northwest Dayton (147 units) and the Westdale apartments on the west side (57 units).

The first phase will have an estimated development cost of $35 million.

Phase 2 now includes the Wilkinson plaza high-rise, located downtown on the 100 block of West Fifth Street. The building, which likely needs to be demolished, has 199 units and may be put into the first phase, Heapy said.

Other housing in the second phase include the Westdale cottages near the high-rise of the same name and a variety of scattered sites across the city.

The third phase, expected for 2020 to 2022, would likely demolish and replace the Hallmark Meridian, which has 75 units and is across the street from the Metropolitan.

The second and third phases have estimated development costs of $39.4 million and $11.2 million, respectively.

GDPM owns and operates about 2,680 housing units, and the current waiting list for public housing is 1,855.

The agency also provides nearly 4,100 people with housing vouchers, which are payments they can use to rent from operators of private housing. GDPM spends about $22 million on its voucher program, which has a waiting list of 4,620.

After these three phases wrap up, GDPM is interested in transferring more of its properties through the program, Heapy said.

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