A Birmingham-based developer plans to renovate an aging Anniston apartment complex and turn it into affordable housing with help from the federal government, but not for everyone who now lives there.
According to Calhoun County Revenue Department records, Cahaba Valley Development, a Birmingham-based company that specializes in creating affordable housing through federal tax credits, recently bought Cane Creek Apartments at McClellan. City officials and the property's manager say federal tax credits will be used to change the apartments into affordable housing for residents with moderate incomes. Some tenants are excited about the promise of significant upgrades to the deteriorating, more than 50-year-old apartments. However, others will never see the improvements, saying they're being forced to move because they make too much money to qualify for the new affordable housing rates.
Attempts to reach a representative of Cahaba Valley Development were unsuccessful Friday.
Brandy Crane, manager for Arbour Valley, the company that manages Cane Creek, said the apartments acknowledged the tax credit plan. Crane said there has been concern from some residents that the apartments would become part of Section 8, an affordable-housing program offered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"This is not Section 8, not by any means," Crane said. "With Section 8, your rent is based on income but we're not like that ... our rent is staying the same ... you just have to have a certain income to qualify."
Toby Bennington, Anniston city planner, also said the apartments will not become Section 8 housing.
"Because of that, the city is not required to do any approval on the change," Bennington said.
Crane noted that the income qualification does mean some current tenants will have to move out soon. Crane said a couple can make up to $24,780 in annual income to qualify for an apartment. Meanwhile, a single tenant can make up to $21,720 and still qualify, she said. According to Cane Creek's website, rent ranges between $530 and $730 a month, depending upon the size of the unit, typically with a one-year lease. Deposits are required.
"There will be some that will have to move because they don't qualify, but we're giving plenty of notice," Crane said.
Crane added that some tenants she's contacted to discuss the situation have not responded an do not know what's going on.
Sherry Hine said she knows exactly what's going on and she's not happy about it. Hine has lived alone at Cane Creek for almost a year. However, her lease is up in July and she will be unable to renew it because she does not meet the qualifications for the affordable housing.
"I'm just sick; I cry all the time about it," Hine said. "I'm so worried about trying to find a place to move ... the way they're doing us is bad."
Hine said though she's retired and lives off only $19,000 a year, below the income requirement, the fact that she also owns property in Anniston still keeps her from qualifying to stay.
"There is no grandfathering in, not even for military and veterans who are here," Hine said.
But while some are being forced to leave, those who get to stay or who will soon move in will gain substantially improved housing.
Crane said $40,000 worth of renovations will be made in the coming months on each apartment at Cane Creek.
"There will be stainless steel appliances, new washers and dryers, new countertops ... when they're done they'll be the best apartments in the city," Crane said. "They're more than 50 years old and need to be remodeled."
Marcus Williams, a 20-year veteran of the Air Force, has lived at Cane Creek for three years and is glad for the changes. Williams said he met the qualifications to stay.
"They're going to refurbish everything and that's a good thing," Williams said. "I've seen the floor plans and they look pretty good, plus they say they're not going to raise the rent."
However, Williams said he was concerned the change to affordable housing status will lead to an increase in the crime rate.
"It's really quiet here now, I have no complaints," Williams said.
Crane said the change will not lead to growth in crime, though.
"We'll be doing background checks ... you can't get in if you've been convicted of a felony or ever been evicted and you have to have good credit," Crane said.
Nanci Morales was busy moving out of her Cane Creek apartment Friday afternoon. Though a single mother, she learned in May that she still made too much money to stay. However, with her lease expired, she had been considering moving into a house anyway, Morales said.
"So this helped me make my final decision," Morales said.
Morales said she was not upset about being forced to move, but knew neighbors who were concerned about finding another place to live.
"I feel bad for their situation," she said. "It's not like this is a place for college students ... this is many people's homes."