One of the first projects BBVA Compass pursued after the bank made its $11 billion commitment to low- to moderate-income communities in late 2014 has come online and put 128 low-income Austin families in green homes zoned to some of the area’s best schools.
BBVA Compass, working with nonprofit Foundation Communities, financed more than half of the total cost of Lakeline Station Apartments in Northwest Austin as part of the bank’s $11 billion commitment. The community of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments offers rents ranging from $378 to $1,120 a month, which is significantly less than what’s found on the city’s booming rental market. Residents pay according to their income levels, with most families at Lakeline earning between $20,000 and $50,000. Foundation Communities sets aside 10 percent of the apartments for families who are formerly homeless or extremely low-income.
The people who make Austin Austin — the musicians, artists, health care workers, teachers, service industry workers — are getting priced out of our city.
“This slice of land has been fully transformed to create opportunities for lower-income individuals,” said BBVA Compass Austin CEO Joe Petet. “BBVA Compass takes great pride in its role as the financial engine of that endeavor, which will make a meaningful difference in many lives. This is smart business that will allow us to carry forward our commitment to our communities.”
Lakeline marks the third time BBVA Compass and Foundation Communities have come together recently to bring more affordable housing to Austin. The bank also helped finance Bluebonnet Studios on South Lamar and Live Oak Trails Apartments in Oak Hill, which both opened in late 2016 and together added 165 units to the city’s affordable-housing stock. The issue is a critical one in Austin, where the growing population and rising property values are creating a shortage of affordable housing.
“The people who make Austin Austin — the musicians, artists, health care workers, teachers, service industry workers — are getting priced out of our city,” said Foundation Communities Executive Director Walter Moreau. “That doesn’t have to happen if we work together. We are grateful to BBVA Compass for recognizing the value, economic and otherwise, of these three communities and helping give nearly 300 families and individuals a place to call home.”
BBVA Compass provided over $20 million of financing for Lakeline, including a $5.5 million permanent loan and $15 million of equity investment through the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, which gives investors a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for investing in affordable housing. The tax credit was created by Congress in 1986 to encourage private investors to inject cash equity in affordable housing projects, and those investors are held accountable for maintaining the project’s compliance for 15 years. Supporters say the program has brought much-needed oversight and private market discipline, with an end result being that lower-income individuals have better choices for higher-quality housing.
Lakeline is emblematic of that with its green building standards and prime location. It is located in the sought-after Round Rock Independent School District. The Learning Center at Lakeline will provide a variety of on-site support services, including after-school and summer learning programs, and fitness, nutrition and money management classes. The Learning Center will also be the first “net zero” commercial building in the city, meaning that it can produce more energy than it consumes thanks to its use of solar power. Lakeline also boasts native plant species and a series of rain cisterns for collecting water for irrigation.
“This is a community anyone would want to live in,” Petet said. “It’s a far cry from the days when ‘affordable housing’ meant living on the edges of society and out of reach of better opportunities and brighter futures.”
Lakeline opened its doors to its first residents in December 2016, and as of mid-April, when Foundation Communities held a grand-opening tour for investors and community partners, it was fully leased with about 40 families already on the waiting list.
This is a community anyone would want to live in. It’s a far cry from the days when ‘affordable housing’ meant living on the edges of society and out of reach of better opportunities and brighter futures.
Keith Murphy, a current resident, spoke to attendees about his path to Lakeline. He grew up in the foster-care system and experienced a series of hardships before he met his wife and they embarked on a life together and now have three children. Before landing at Lakeline, the family of five was living with relatives in a two-bedroom apartment and struggling to make ends meet.
“Living at Lakeline has been like a dream come true for us,” Murphy said. “My children are my world and I’m determined that when they look back on their lives, their memories will be full of joy instead of pain. I don’t want them to experience hardship. I want to be the best father. I want them to be happy and healthy and know that I’ll always be there for them. At Lakeline, we found a home where we can live up to our potential and keep dreaming.”