Project receives support

The Upshur County Commission threw its support behind a project aimed at bringing quality, low-rent housing to the Buckhannon area.

The letter of support will be part of an application for Low-income Housing Tax Credits, which project developer Joe Leighton said he needs to make the project financially feasible. Leighton approached the county commission about two months ago with his proposal to build a 30-unit rental property similar to one he is building in Gilmer County.

“If I have the support of the county commission, the Economic Development Authority, the city and all those stakeholders, we can win an allocation of tax credits for 2013,” Leighton said. “The support of the community is not only important to the scoring system, it’s important to me. I don’t like to work where I’m not wanted.”

The rent for the one- , two- and three-bedroom units will range from about $350 to $500 per month. The amount is regulated by the federal Housing and Urban Development agency, Leighton said. The rent would also include utilities.

The rental units for the Buckhannon project would be built in an area identified by the 2010 Census, though Leighton has not revealed exactly where the property will be. He said it is partially within the city limits.

The project has created concerns among the local Landlords Association. Jody Light, representing the group, questioned the vast number of unknowns surrounding the project. She said having low-income housing units is not the way to attract higher-paying industrial and manufacturing jobs to the county. She said those workers who would be employed at such places would be ineligible to rent an apartment as this complex. She said she was also concerned that the property would only create two part-time jobs.

Commissioner JC Raffety said the number of local school children receiving free or reduced-cost meals “indicates there is a substantial amount of families who are having trouble making ends meet.”