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Rural Communities to Get Professional Housing / AHFC Awards Seven Grants for $9 Million

Anchorage, Alaska - September 09, 2010 - AHFC has selected six rural communities to receive grant funds next year under Alaska Housing Finance Corporation's Teacher, Health Professional & Public Safety Professional housing program.

After a competitive review process, the following applications were approved:

  • Six units of health professional and public safety housing in King Cove
  • Three units of teacher housing in St. Mary's
  • Eight units of teacher housing in Marshal
  • Three VPSO-priority projects:
    • one unit in Akiak
    • one unit in Igiugik
    • three units in Sleetmute
The awards total approximately $6 million, including $1 million in VPSO-priority housing. The grant funds are expected to leverage approximately $4 million in loans, matching funds, and other contributions and produce housing valued at nearly $11 million.

All nine of the communities selected have an urgent need for professional housing, including VPSO housing. For instance, in Igiguik and Akiak, there is no VPSO housing available. The proposed projects will construct two new units of housing for their local VPSOs.

In St. Mary's, there are 15 teachers with just 10 substandard rental units available. The approved project will help to address the housing shortage by building three new housing units.

"This program was initiated in response to a request from school districts and local governments that were reporting difficulty in attracting professionals to their communities," according to Dan Fauske, AHFC CEO/Executive Director. "They identified the lack of available housing as a major impediment to recruiting and retaining qualified VPSOs, teachers, and health care professionals."

AHFC funds only housing proposals that demonstrate community support, Fauske said. "Part of the application process requires an applicant to present evidence of local support, such as a resolution from the school board or a community planning determination that identifies housing for teachers as a local priority."

The teacher housing program was initiated in 2004 and later expanded to include health care and public safety professionals. In five short years, the program has made substantial progress in improving the quality and availability of professional housing in rural Alaska. School districts that had been experiencing 50 percent turnover rates now report near zero turnovers.

To date, AHFC's professional housing program has funded the rehabilitation and new construction of 283 units of housing in 55 rural communities and produced housing valued at $90 million.

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 loan options for low- to moderate-income borrowers, veterans, teachers, health care professionals, 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 and those seeking to become self-sufficient. AHFC has contributed more than $1.9 billion to Alaska's state budget revenues through cash transfers, capital projects and debt-service payments.

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