SOURCE: Alaska Housing Finance Corporation

October 17, 2007 13:01 ET

Teacher, Health Professional, and Public Safety Housing Program Receives National Award

ANCHORAGE, AK--(Marketwire - October 17, 2007) - The Teacher, Health Professional, and Public Safety Housing Program, provided by Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) and the Denali Commission, has been recognized nationally as the outstanding program in affordable housing production.

The program was among 25 state Housing Finance Agency (HFA) programs receiving awards from the National Council of State Housing Agency's (NCSHA) 2007 Annual Conference & Tradeshow in New Orleans, attended by more than 900 affordable housing industry professionals.

The winning programs were chosen from 124 entries from across the country, and programs will serve as models for other HFAs. "The Awards Program represents the best work of HFAs from across the country. It's a great way to share information about what works. It is this sharing that, over the years, has made all HFAs more successful in achieving our common mission of providing affordable housing for those who need it," said Kim Herman, NCSHA president and executive director of the Washington State Housing Finance Commission.

AHFC's award was presented in the category of "Rental Housing: Encouraging New Production." Over the past four years, AHFC, in partnership with the Denali Commission, has awarded $29 million for the rehabilitation, acquisition, or new construction of 164 units of rental housing for teachers, health professionals, and public safety officials in rural Alaska.

Lack of available, decent, safe, affordable housing has been identified as a primary reason remote rural communities have a difficult time recruiting and retaining good teachers. In 2004, AHFC introduced a program to help rural communities with the construction and rehabilitation of professional housing. The program provides long-term loan financing and proceeds from AHFC's annual earnings to help in the development and rehabilitation of affordable housing for teachers, health professionals or public safety officials. The program is having a positive impact on rural school districts. More teachers are accepting job offers and renewing their contracts to stay in communities where this housing is available.

Jamie Stacks is superintendent for the Pribilof Island School District. Three duplexes built under AHFC's program in St. Paul have been occupied for one year. She reported that she is delighted to have the new housing, which has made a positive impact on the quality of education through the district's ability to recruit and retain teachers.

"Historically, when we interviewed applicants, one of their first questions was about housing quality," said Stacks. "Seems just about everyone 'Outside' has heard the horror stories of freezing pipes, cold rooms, mold and mildew in Alaska's teacher housing in rural communities.

"Same goes for teacher retention," according to Stacks. "The first couple to move in to the new housing was from Michigan. They had intended to stay only one year when they signed on, expecting to find poor housing opportunities in St. Paul. But once they got here and found the new apartments that were just being completed, they changed their minds. They renewed their contracts and are returning this September."

Funding for the Teacher, Health Professional, and Public Safety Housing Program is made available on a competitive basis through a Notice of Funding Availability typically in the spring, with awards announced in the fall.

NCSHA is a national, nonprofit organization created by the nation's state HFAs to assist them in increasing housing opportunities for lower income and underserved people through the financing, development, and preservation of affordable housing. Now in its 23rd year, NCSHA's awards program mission is to share information about the most successful housing programs, identify industry best practices, recognize exemplary HFA efforts, and encourage HFA innovation. According to NCSHA, the winning programs were judged on originality, innovation, a proven track record in the marketplace, cost/benefit ratio, and measurable benefits provided to targeted customers.

AHFC is a self-supporting public corporation with offices in 16 communities statewide. It provides statewide financing for multi-family complexes, congregate facilities, and single-family homes, with special loans for first-time home buyers, low- and moderate-income borrowers, veterans, teachers, nurses, public safety officers, and those living in rural areas of the state. AHFC also provides energy and weatherization programs, low-income rental assistance in 17 communities, and special programs for the homeless. Since 1986, AHFC has contributed more than $1.5 billion to Alaska's State budget revenues through cash transfers, capital projects and debt service payments.

Contact Information

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    James Wiedle
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