Warner Robins residents speak out on affordable housing complex
A proposed $17.4 million affordable housing complex in Warner Robins could be ready to open by the fall of 2020 if city officials give it the green light.
Perkins Field would be comprised of 90 apartments in three buildings located on the site of the current Perkins Park on Watson Boulevard. The next step is for the City Council to vote on transferring the land over to the Warner Robins Downtown Development Authority, which in turn would allow the developers to build the complex.
The proposed project has not been without controversy. Some residents have said that affordable housing would bring more crime to an area city leaders are trying to turn into a downtown, while others say there are parts of the city better suited for this type of housing.
“I don’t think the question against this project is that you are helping those who make less or need affordable housing,” Warner Robins resident Jon Nichols said at a public hearing on Thursday. “The issue is why Perkins Field, why Watson Boulevard? Go to Front Street. Go to Armed Forces Boulevard. Go to 6th Street. That area needs to be revitalized.”
Several others, like Rutha Jackson, said they are in favor of complex being built near City Hall.
“The purpose of building these houses is because our community needs this project to re-establish worth and value in this area,” Jackson said. “For too long this conversation has been about what we need to be doing and now this project is a great step in the right direction.”
Developers at the hearing said that although it’s income-based, the project is not public housing. Credit and criminal background checks would be performed on residents.
The project is a joint venture of Woda Cooper Companies and Parallel Housing.
The complex would have laundry and community rooms, fitness area, wellness office and 4,000 square feet of retail space.
“We hope that people will be able to come in, live a couple years, several years, ten years and then hopefully get to a stage where they aspire to own their own homes,” said Denis Blackburne, senior vice-president of Woda Cooper.
Monthly rent would range from $480-$825 based on the number of bedrooms and household income level.
The majority of the apartments would be for people who earn a salary 50-60% of the median income level for the area.
Nine of the units would be market rate.
The financing of the project includes tax credits awarded through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
The tax credits allow investors of the project to buy the credits in exchange for the equity needed to finance them. The infusion of equity reduces the amount of debt, thus allowing for lower rent being charged to tenants.