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Proposed veterans housing project at Togus awarded tax credits

central maine.com hederProposed veterans housing project at Togus awarded tax credits

The Cabin in the Woods project is one of five affordable-housing projects that will share about $2.9 million in federal low-income housing tax credits allocated by MaineHousing.

A project seeking to build cabins for homeless veterans on the grounds of the federal veterans' hospital at Togus was allocated nearly $400,000 in federal low-income tax credits, state housing officials announced Wednesday.

The Cabin in the Woods project, a proposed development by the nonprofit organization Volunteers of America, was one of five affordable housing projects that will share about $2.9 million in federal low income housing tax credits allocated by MaineHousing.

The $4 million project is meant to serve veterans who are homeless and need to be close to services at the VA Maine Healthcare Systems campus at Togus. It would be on 11 wooded acres of the federal property, providing housing for homeless veterans in a setting officials said would look like a traditional Maine camp, with a community center and 21 privately situated, energy-efficient cabins.

"There are many veterans in Maine who need to be close to services at Togus but want to live in a more remote, quiet setting that Maine is known for," June Koegel, chief executive officer of Volunteers of America Northern New England, said in a news release. "Cabin in the Woods will allow them to have a safe and wonderful home near services to help them on their road to independence and recovery. We are extremely grateful to MaineHousing, the (Department of Veterans Affairs), and all of our partners who are helping to make this project a reality."

The project was allocated $388,000 in tax credits.

The project still needs more funding to move forward. In June, state legislators decided to carry over to the next legislative session two bills that would have helped fund the project. The proposals could have provided $1 million in state funding for the project, or $4 million in bond funding that would have needed voters' approval.

Volunteers of America officials couldn't be reached immediately late Wednesday for details on the project's current funding status.

MaineHousing Director John Gallagher said in the release he is impressed by the tenacity of the veterans groups and their partners in moving the project, which began in 2009, toward reality.

The project also will receive 16 Veterans Affairs housing vouchers, funded by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, to help veterans pay rent on the cabins.

The developer worked with Veterans Affairs to secure a 75-year-lease on the 11-acre site at Togus, where the mix of one- and two-bedroom cabins accessible to people with disabilities would be built.

Other projects awarded tax credits, announced by MaineHousing Wednesday, were: Huse School Apartments in Bath, $647,000 in tax credits to help build 43 affordable-housing units; Blackstone Apartments in Falmouth, $300,000 in tax credits to help acquire and rehabilitate 20 existing units and create 19 new units for elderly tenants; Carleton Street Apartments in Portland, $581,000 in tax credits to help construct 37 family housing units; and St. Ignatius Apartments in Sanford, $938,000 in tax credits to help rehabilitate an existing three-story building and construct another building to create 66 housing units for the elderly.