At the end of October 2023, the City of Fort Worth broke ground on the Tobias Place affordable housing development on the corner of Hemphill and Biddison streets. The project, which is being made in a public/private partnership between Fort Worth's Housing Finance Corporation and Ojala Holdings, seeks to help elderly residents and preserve the neighborhood's "vibrant Hispanic culture" in the face of rising cost of living.
The project has its roots dating back to 2020, when neighborhood leaders asked The City to address the displacement of residents on account of rising cost of living. Fort Worth's Neighborhood Services Department set out of find a solution by consulting affordable housing developers to identify ideal land parcels in the Hemphill corridor to serve the "unique needs of the local community" through affordable housing development.
Tobias Place, named for Toby "Big Time" Tobias, offers a compelling solution to a few issues:
- 288 units offer a variety of options to ensure practicality for residents across the low-income spectrum
- Accessibility for seniors, individuals with disabilities, and recent college graduates alike
- Bolstered drainage systems ensure positive externalities due to decreased flooding
The $80mm project is financed through a convoluted but efficient structure, including "federal housing tax credits, loans, grants, and dynamic partnerships with both City and county entities". The City hopes this will lead to the development remaining a bastion of affordable housing for a minimum of 30 years.
Affordable housing is certainly not the sexiest of development strategies, not to mention the level of expertise required to properly manage tax credit investing. However, these developers can find themselves (somewhat) insulated from the ebbs and flows of the CRE market cycle due to their sourcing of low-cost capital and the cycle-agnostic demand of government entities.