FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 26, 2013
Bi-partisan Work Leads to Housing Solutions, Vibrant Communities
Rep. Gara Applauds signing of bill to lower housing costs and help local businesses
Today, Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage) applauded the signing of a bill that will make it easier for the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation to build affordable housing and vibrant communities in Alaska. Rep. Gara co-authored the legislation with Representative Mia Costello (R-Anchorage), which they co-sponsored, after a business in his downtown district called his office concerned about a law that was forcing it to close a popular community restaurant at Inlet Towers.
“It’s great when constituents alert us to problems and the solutions become law,” said Rep. Gara. “Allowing community-oriented businesses to operate in the same place where people live is good for businesses, good for the economy and jobs, and good for building vibrant, affordable neighborhoods. Despite the often bitter partisanship too common in politics, working across party lines still brings real benefits to Alaskans.”
The bill (HB 50) authorizes the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation to allow certain non-profit and commercial uses like restaurants, retail stores, coffee shops, medical offices, and day care centers in multi-unit residential housing developments it owns or finances. This mixed-use development promotes a sense of community and provides residents with easy access to commonly-used services. It will also help AHFC and the developers it finances to offset costs, thereby allowing them to offer lower cost housing and expand efforts to meet Alaska’s growing demand for affordable housing.
“Our work would not be possible without substantial investments from AHFC. Cook Inlet Housing Authority believes HB50 will provide AHFC reasonable flexibility to finance and build new housing developments that enhance quality of life for residents and better promote economic development in communities throughout the state,” said Carol Gore, President and CEO of Cook Inlet Housing Authority in a letter submitted in support of the legislation.
Glenn Gellert, Managing Member for Trapline LLC, an Alaska development company said, “For the last 15 years I have worked closely with Alaska Housing Finance to provide affordable housing to Alaskans in Anchorage, Fairbanks, the Mat-Su Valley and Kenai. Rising construction costs and land costs have made it more difficult to fill funding gaps. HB 50 would provide other revenue sources that could allow a property to carry more debt and fill these financing holes.”
HB 50 does not allow charitable gaming or adult entertainment businesses or businesses that primarily sell alcohol or tobacco in AHFC owned or financed mixed-use properties. Restaurants would be able to get liquor licenses for operations in AHFC owned or financed buildings, but bars or night clubs would not. Similarly, grocery stores in the buildings would be allowed to sell tobacco products.