Who is leading this project?
The A+CC 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.
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.
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! At least 25% of the project will be comprised of two and three-bedroom units that will be set aside for families with children.
What unit sizes will be available?
The sizes of units have not yet been defined. We expect that units will be larger than typical affordable rental housing, but this will largely be defined through our community outreach process.
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, the A+CC is just one of several new projects addressing the issue.
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.
Recently, the City of Santa Fe has donated land for an 80-unit affordable rental project being developed by the Housing Trust. Additionally, there were at least two other project from Santa Fe seeking Low Income Housing Tax Credits this year. Along with increasing the available supply of affordable housing, the success of all of these projects will pave the way for future projects which will further address the broader needs for affordable housing.
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 Arts & Creativity Center 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 A+CC will contain a “shared resources” building and other features that will be open to the larger community as well as residents. These resources may include specialized workshop/studio space, equipment, and public space for events, meetings, and instructional workshops. The project will also feature entrepreneurial and professional development support for creatives – this could include everything from workshops to panel discussions to on-site help.
Who will decide what the “shared resources” will be?
Over the next 18 months, we’ll be engaging the community in a robust input process that will help to determine the nature and design of shared resources that will make the A+CC a true community resource for the benefit of the residents, the surrounding neighborhood and the community at large.
How will this project be funded?
A majority of the approximately $14 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.
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.
Any development fees will be reinvested to support unfunded components of the A+CC project, including on-site services and shared resources facilities, or invested to pursue future affordable housing projects which often entail large up-front costs.
To date, the two organizations have invested over $300,000 towards making this project a reality.
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). In 2016 the AMI for Santa Fe for an individual is $45,300 and for a family of four is $64,600.
This project aims to assist low and very low-income residents. Our goal is to target an average income level among all households of below 50% AMI, and we will include units affordable to residents who earn below 30% AMI.
For example an individual who makes no more than 30% AMI ($13,110 a year) will have to pay no more than $351 a month in rent. Whereas a two-person family qualifying for a unit set aside for those earning 50% of the area median income can earn no more than $25,000 a year, and will pay no more than $702 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||$13,590||$15,510||$17,460|
|50% of Area Median Income||Max Income||$22,650||$25,850||$29,100|
|60% of Area Median Income||Max Income||$27,180||$31,020||$34,920|
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 may also include as many as 10 market rate units. This is for a few different reasons. Prevailing theories concerning affordable housing believe that it is of crucial importance to create a balance of incomes within a project. This keeps housing projects from become segregated concentrations of poverty. This mixed-income approach also makes the request for tax credits more competitive, and will make the realization of the project more likely.
Why is the city donating resources to this project when there is a budget deficit?
While this project represents a significant investment of land on the part of the city, it does not include any direct monetary contribution to the development of the project. As such, this project has little impact on the operating budget of the city. The project developers have committed to helping cover hard costs associated with the relocation of city activities currently taking place on the development site.
From an economic development perspective, this is exactly the type of investment the city should make in order to create long-term solutions to current budget problems. The donation of five-acres of underutilized land (less than 10% of the total land owned by the city in the Siler Road parcel) will be the catalyst for more than $14 million in total project investments, and countless ongoing contribution to the local economy generated by the activities of resident businesses. This project will pay annual property tax, and by creating a fertile ecosystem for entrepreneurs, will contribute to long-term business and tax revenue growth in the city.
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 will be 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.