Explaining “Conceptual Level Review” for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program

A recent study commissioned by New Hampshire Housing and prepared by the New Hampshire Homebuilders Association found that multi-family projects funded through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program (LIHTCP) have a positive impact on the state. Residents who live in affordable housing units contribute to the workforce and support the local economy by purchasing locally-produced goods and services. The survey also shows that these projects create jobs; in the study period 110 jobs were created while generating roughly $8 million in local revenue annually.

To qualify for funding through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, project sponsors must first participate in the conceptual level review process. The conceptual level review brings a diverse group of New Hampshire Housing staff members together with the project sponsors to review all aspects of the proposed multi-family project.  The process allows New Hampshire Housing to provide input and guidance on the project to help facilitate a successful funding application.

Originally offered as an optional service to applicants, the conceptual level review process has proven so helpful in facilitating successful funding applications, that it is now a mandatory part of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program.  The process consists of two key elements: submission of a pre-application and a conceptual level review meeting.

The pre-application must include the following:

  • Completed pre-application form;
  • Site plans including architectural drawings and renderings to provide a sense of project design, concept and layout;
  • Project overview describing the concept and demographic to be served through the project;
  • Project funding worksheet which includes a preliminary outline of all funding sources and a project budget;
  • Preliminary operating outline, including projected income and expenses for the project once at full occupancy.

The pre-application review will determine whether a project meets New Hampshire Housing’s threshold criteria, appears economically feasible and is aligned with New Hampshire Housing’s funding objectives.

Upon submission of a completed pre-application, the project sponsor and development team will meet with New Hampshire Housing staff members to review the full scope of the project and identify and address issues relating to market conditions, financing, design and construction, management, environment and other external issues related to the real estate. Following this review meeting, New Hampshire Housing will prepare a summary for the project sponsor and development team that outlines outstanding issues and items that must be resolved prior to the formal application process.

It is important to note that the conceptual level review process is, by its very nature, based on preliminary and incomplete knowledge of the project. It does, however, represent a good faith effort on the part of New Hampshire Housing to provide the earliest possible review of the project concept to the development team to ensure that it meets the criteria and spirit of the program.

Developers who intend to apply for New Hampshire Housing’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit funding in 2013 must submit conceptual level review applications in May of 2012. Upon completion of the conceptual review process, project sponsors have the opportunity to make suggested (or necessary) changes to the project plans before submitting a full application by August 29, 2012.

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