Who is leading this project?
Siler Yard is a collaborative effort between Creative Santa Fe, a non-profit arts organization, New Mexico Inter-Faith Housing, a non-profit affordable housing organization, the City of Santa Fe, and community stakeholders–especially the residents, creatives, businesses and employees located in the Siler Road area.
Is this project only for artists?
No, this project is focused on a broader group of people who specifically need affordable live/work housing. While Santa Fe has a wealth of economic opportunity for artists, all too often other creative members of our community are overlooked because their work doesn’t fit into the standard definitions of what it means to be an “artist.”
This project is designed to overcome this problem by including all types of creatives such as craftspeople, chefs, musicians, fabricators, designers, entrepreneurs, writers and more. Many people with creative pursuits also work in other industries, and with a large number of family units, the benefits of the housing will extend beyond just creative individuals. Anyone is invited to apply for housing and in situations where there are not sufficient applicants meeting the criteria for live/work unit need, housing will be rented to first available income qualified tenant.
How does a potential resident qualify as an artist or creative?
Residents do not need to be full-time creatives, or to earn their primary living from their creative work. Rather, they need simply to be passionate about, and show a sustained committed to, their creative pursuits and have a demonstrated need for live/work space.
How will residents be selected?
The resident selection process will be designed through community input using the model pioneered by Artspace, and will be adapted to reflect the unique needs and cultural landscape of Santa Fe. Ultimately, we envision that resident selection will be carried out by the residents themselves and will be representative of the range of people from all backgrounds in our community, with a particular focus on underserved populations that meet the income guidelines of the project. Additionally, the project will host workshops in the lead-up to the opening of the housing to make sure that people from underserved groups are prepared with the paperwork needed to successfully complete an income certification.
What about artists with families? Will there be family units available?
Yes! Over 50% of the project will be comprised of two and three-bedroom units that will be able to serve families with children.
How does this project fit in with other affordable housing initiatives?
The lack of affordable housing is a major issue in Santa Fe and affects people from all walks of life, not just artists and creatives. Fortunately, Siler Yard is just one of several new projects addressing the issue and our project is aligned with the city’s affordable housing goals.
The City of Santa Fe is a regional and national leader in affordable housing. It is home to many non-profit developers with excellent track records of creating beautiful, livable affordable housing, including the Housing Trust, Homewise, Habitat for Humanity and the Santa Fe Civic Housing Authority. In fact, the creation of affordable rental housing is arguably the highest priority for the City of Santa Fe, as evidenced by the City’s Housing Needs Assessment.
The main funding source for this project is the Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit program which is allocated through a statewide competition. Siler Yard was the only new construction project from Santa Fe in the 2018 competitive round.
So, why focus on artists and creatives?
In addition to the lack of affordable housing in Santa Fe, there is also a real lack of affordable studio and work space. This can be a serious obstacle for many would-be artists and creatives, especially those from low-income backgrounds.
The Siler Yard aims to address both these needs by providing its residents with additional valuable resources such as workshop and studio space as well as professional development assistance. Some of these resources will be shared, both between residents and with the larger community. By designing the project to serve a concentration of people with similar needs, we can stretch our resources to deliver more value to residents while creating the additional result of bolstering the local economy.
What does “shared resources” mean? How will the project serve the community beyond just its residents?
In addition to private live/work rental units, the Siler Yard will contain a “shared resources” building that will house an advance makerspace led by MAKE Santa Fe that will be free for residents and open to the larger community. These resources include specialized workshop/studio space for activities not well suited for live work units. Residents will have access to advanced computer controlled machinery such as 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC routers, as well as wood, metal, and fabric workshops. This building will also include space for events, meetings, and instructional workshops. This space will serve as the hub for delivery of entrepreneurial and professional development support resources, workshops and classes.
How will this project be funded?
A majority of the approximately $15 million needed to construct the project will be funded through the Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program (LIHTC). These tax credits are awarded competitively to projects around the state and are “sold”, typically to large institutional investors, to provide funding for the project. Additional funding will come from grants, as well as private construction and mortgage financing. The City of Santa Fe has committed contributions worth $2.1 million through land donation, fee waivers, and funding for project. Other grant sources and private philanthropic support will be used to fill gaps in funding.
Is a developer profiting from this project?
No. Both the organizations leading the development project Creative Santa Fe and New Mexico Inter-Faith Housing, are non-profit organizations who are precluded from allowing any individuals to be personally financially enriched by their activities. Both organizations are governed by diverse community boards that oversee their activities and finances.
What does “affordable” mean? What is considered low-income? What will be the cost of rent per unit?
In the affordable housing field, “affordable” is defined as a person or household paying no more than 30% of their gross income towards housing costs. This is the formula used to calculate rents under the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program and will apply to a range of rents within the project that will be tiered at various income levels.
Income levels are measured in relation to the Area Median Income (AMI). This project aims to assist low and very low-income residents. The 55 affordable units in the project will be set aside for individuals and families that earn between 30 and 60% AMI, which is an income between $13,080 and $26,160 for an individual and adjusts up based on family size.
How does this translate into affordability? A one bedroom unt set aside for people at or below 30% AMI will have to pay no more than $291 a month in rent. A two-person family qualifying for a unit set aside for those earning 50% of the area median income can earn no more than $24,900 a year, and will pay no more than $624 in rent for a two-bedroom live/work unit. Income limits and maximum rents are adjusted annually by HUD, and you can see maximum income limits and maximum rents for 2016 at different household sizes in the table below.
|2016 Income and Rent Limits Santa Fe County|
|1 person family
one bedroom unit
|2 person family
2 bedroom unit
|3 person family
3 bedroom unit
|30% of Area Median Income||Max Income||$13,080||$14,940||$16,800|
|50% of Area Median Income||Max Income||$21,800||$24,900||$28,000|
|60% of Area Median Income||Max Income||$26,160||$29,880||$33,600|
How do we know that these units will remain affordable in the future?
As mentioned above, the project will be primarily funded through the Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program (LIHTC). This program requires that rents be restricted and that residents must be verified to be below 60% of the Area Median Income for a minimum of 15 years. Additionally, the New Mexico Affordable Housing Act legally requires that any project benefiting from a municipal donation of land commit to long-term affordability. This project will go above and beyond both these requirements by legally committing that affordability will be maintained for a minimum of 45 years, 30 years beyond the federal minimum compliance requirements.
Will all the units be reserved for low-income residents?
Not all the units will be designated for low-income households, but the vast majority will be. The project will include teb market rate units which increases our chance of being funded through the LIHTC program. This also allows us to have more flexible rental arrangements for these units for residencies or institutional partnerships.
What does this development mean for the neighborhood? Is this project going to contribute to gentrification and the displacement of current tenants and residents?
The area surrounding Siler Road is changing rapidly. This is for a variety of reasons including large structural factors such as population growth, which has made this area that was once the edge of town, now very close to the geographic and population center of the city. Additionally, with the development of the Siler Road bridge, this area is experiencing an increase in drive-by traffic which makes it more desirable to commercial development interests.
Nationally, it’s become a cliche that artists are the harbingers of gentrification. But while this project is part of a recent shifting of the community’s perceptions of this district as an “arts center” or “innovation district,” the truth is that artists and creatives have found homes in the district for many years. A combination of relatively inexpensive space, industrial zoning, and low-key surroundings has led to a fascinating mosaic of culture. It’s a district where a fourth-generation metalworker prepares for Spanish Market just a few doors down from a space where recent college grads host late-night music shows–a true cross-section of Santa Fe culture. The aim with this project is to tackle some of the larger implications of these changing trends by ensuring that there is always long-term affordable space in the neighborhood and that we work as a community to preserve creative spaces that are free from some of the regulatory and economic burdens that are present in other areas of town.
At the core, this is a community-driven project. The design of the offerings and the structure itself has been driven by community input and will be representative of the rich cultural diversity which is Santa Fe. The project will provide affordable housing and access to economic support resources for the entire diversity of Santa Fe residents with a particular focus on creating new shared community resources that directly benefit existing businesses as well as folks that currently live and work in the neighborhood.
How will this project affect traffic?
Generally, a project of this scale has relatively little impact on overall traffic patterns with a standard assumption of around 300-350 car trips per day. While this may sound significant to those outside the planning field, for context, the section of Alameda Street west of St. Francis Drive experiences over 11,000 trips a day. But, conscious of even small impacts, we are also exploring strategies to incentivize car-free lifestyles at the project including shared vehicles and enhanced public transportation utilization. Our project is also committed to investing in the traffic infrastructure necessary to address any increase in traffic loads created by the project.
What kind of community input are you looking for? How can I get involved?
The design of this project is going to be led by community input. That means that you can have a say.
The project has secured a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town grant that provides resources needed to engage deeply with a wide range of community stakeholders. Over the next 18 months, our outreach team will host or support a series of events to garner community input, interest, and support. If you want to be involved, please sign up for our mailing list. You can also follow us on Facebook and check back to the website regularly as we will post events here as well.
Have questions, comments or conecerns?
While our team is deeply invested in the community and has extensive experience with affordable housing and community development, we also can’t claim to know all of the ways that new projects, like this one, may affect and feel to the communities who have lived here for generations. We want to though, and we want this project to feel like an accessible, positive, thoughtful addition to Santa Fe. Please share your visions, ideas, and feedback- as this moves forward. Please consider participating in the creation of what we hope will be a product of shared vision and leadership. You can use the form below to get in touch with our team.