. (2010, December 13). Big Four redevelopments rise or fall on federal tax bill. The
Louisiana Weekly,p. 2. Retrieved March 15, 2011, from Ethnic NewsWatch (ENW). (Document
Even as President Barack Obama agrees to keep Bush-era tax cuts,
a consensus is still lacking on
an extension of tax credits needed to rebuild New Orleans' Big Four housing developments, as
well as other Gulf Coast complexes.
Tucked away in the massive tax bill Obama is trying to pass in the last days of the current
session of Congress - before a new Republican majority takes over the U.S. House of
Representatives - are several affordable-housing incentives critical to the Gulf Coast and in
particular, New Orleans. But while
Obama has conceded to Republicans by agreeing to extend
tax cuts for the wealthy if they agree to
, among other things, extend emergency unemployment
benefits, there is no word on whether the final bill will include the critical affordable housing
incentives written into earlier versions.
Among its myriad tax code provisions, the bill under debate, S. 3793, proposes to extend a low
income housing tax credit exchange program for a year, reauthorize a New Markets Tax Credit
program and fund a National Housing Trust Fund meant to pay for affordable rental housing in
all states with a shortage, including Louisiana Introduced by Senate Finance Committee
Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) in September, the bill has fallen victim to partisan haggling. It
still must be passed by the House and the Senate.
Most critically to New Orleans, the bill includes a two-year extension of the placed-in-service
date for projects being financed with Gulf Opportunity Zone tax credits created after Hurricane
Katrina. Without the extension of the current placed-in-service deadline of Dec. 31, Louisiana
stands to lose at least 1,770 units and $398 million in total investment dollars for projects that
will not forward without more time, according to Louisiana Housing Finance Agency documents.
Another 3,230 units across 66 complexes are in jeopardy across the other Gulf Coast states.
Among the developers relying on the credits to finance post-Katrina housing projects are those
building mixed-income communities on the site of the former B.W. Cooper and Lafitte public
housing developments. At Lafitte, where 220 units are nearly complete, the failure to pass an
extension could cost 430 still-unbuilt units financed through deals that rely on the tax credits and
have not yet closed, according to the finance authority. For B.W. Cooper, the end of the tax credit
program could kill the 410-unit project completely because none of its financing has closed and
construction hasn't started. Project developer KBK Enterprises did not return several calls made
over the past week requesting comment. In September, company Chief Financial Officer Mike