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City to use $1.2M in funds for affordable housing

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The city of Albuquerque is moving forward in its effort to buy a piece of property along Fourth Street where city and county officials hope to build affordable housing.

The city will pool funds with Bernalillo County to purchase the property.

A resolution, sponsored by City Councilor Isaac Benton, was passed by the council Dec. 16 instructing the city to buy the 5-acre site at 3525 Fourth NW, between Candelaria and Matthew. Benton could not immediately be reached for comment. According to the resolution, the property is being sold for about $900,000. The city will use $1.2 million in city and county Workforce Housing Trust Fund money to buy the property and demolish existing buildings at the location.

The resolution also calls for the city to enter into an agreement with the county to develop a master plan for the site.

County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley, who represents the area, said she started working on the project when she was a city councilor. She left her post as a councilor in Dec. 2012 to serve on the County Commission.

She said the city and county hope to work with a developer to build affordable housing for “working people.” She said the idea is to have mixed incomes living in the same development. The city’s Workforce Housing Opportunity Act requires that 30 percent of the dwelling units built using Workforce Housing funds be “affordable to families whose income is at or below 80 percent” of the median income in the area.

O’Malley said there are no set plans yet on what to build, but the area would be good for families or seniors because there is a school and senior center nearby.

“It’s a critical site,” she said. “It has good potential for senior housing. It’s in the valley and could still have water access. We are looking into maybe even some type of community garden.”

O’Malley said there are many old buildings along Fourth Street and some owners are no longer investing in their properties. She said this makes corporate and other business owners less likely to locate in the area.

“We hope it’s a catalyst site to change that section of Fourth Street,” O’Malley said. “We have had a lot of disinvestment in the community along that corridor.”

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