Santa Fe’s median home price just hit a staggering new high of $560,000, according to a recent report by the Santa Fe Association of Realtors.
If you happened across that number last week while procrastinating on your taxes and found yourself too bummed out to do more paperwork, hang in there: The IRS has extended this year's tax deadline to May 17. On top of that, SFR discovered two different ways that you can actually use your taxes to help make a dent in Santa Fe's affordable housing deficit.
Donate Your Refund
If you are lucky enough to be doing OK financially despite the pandemic and your income is moderate enough that you will receive a refund on your personal income taxes, consider making a "voluntary contribution" to the New Mexico Housing Trust Fund.
This small but mighty fund has had an outsized impact on affordable housing in New Mexico by providing affordable housing projects with just enough cash to qualify for millions more in federal, state and private funding.
The fund has helped back half a dozen projects in Santa Fe, including the Stagecoach Apartments built by the Santa Fe Community Housing Trust and Santa Fe Community Living built by the Santa Fe Civic Housing Authority.
"[The fund is] a small but very important piece of the pie that makes everything else work and makes these projects pencil out," says Rebecca Velarde, senior director of policy and planning at the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority.
Since the Legislature created the New Mexico Housing Trust Fund in 2005, the MFA has used the meager $22 million lawmakers have put into the fund to leverage more than $500 million in investments in affordable housing across the state.
In light of the pandemic, lawmakers passed legislation this year that also allows funds to be used for rental and mortgage assistance.
"Frankly, the New Mexico Housing Trust Fund is one of the best bangs for your buck in the state's investment," Velarde tells SFR.
That's true of your investment, too, if you choose to donate all or part of your tax refund.
In 2019 and 2020, New Mexicans donated $23,405 to the fund in voluntary contributions.
It's not a huge sum, but with a return-on-investment capacity of 25 to 1, each donation goes a long way and is constantly recycled as the MFA gives small, low-interest loans to developers that are eventually paid back into the fund and can be used again.
You can also donate your refund to 17 other programs, including the Sexual Assault Examination Kit Processing Fund and the National Guard Member and Family Assistance Fund, or to a political party.
All you have to do is attach a form to your personal income tax return indicating which fund you want to contribute to. To find the form and instructions for filling it out, go to the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department's homepage and click on the Forms and Publications tab, then enter "voluntary contributions" into the search bar and select the form titled "2020 PIT-D Voluntary contributions Schedule."
Get Some Credit
No tax refund? No worries. The state's Affordable Housing Tax Credit Program is yet another way you can use your taxes to help fund affordable housing and stretch the value of your dollar to make some pretty cool projects possible.
A few miles north of Santa Fe, Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo is using the program to help fund the restoration of adobe homes surrounding the pueblo's historic plaza into affordable housing with modern amenities.
Generations of people once lived and worked in these traditional structures, yet most were abandoned over the last 50 years and fell into disrepair.
The pueblo's Housing Authority started the Owe'neh Bupingeh Preservation Project in 2005, and 34 buildings have since been restored, providing homes for 42 families. Now the Pueblo is seeking to raise $4 million to restore an additional 25 homes.
"We are literally saving our pueblo, our culture and our language through this project," says Tomasita Duran, executive director of the Ohkay Owingeh Housing Authority. "This plaza is what we call the heart of our tribe. It's the most sacred space on the reservation. It's where our kivas exist and where we practice our spiritual dances."
Because the project is eligible under the New Mexico Affordable Housing Tax Credit program, you will get 50% of the money you donate back in state tax credits and could get another 40% back in federal tax credits as well.
So, if you give $100, $90 could end up back in your pocket. Meanwhile, the Pueblo can use your donation to bring in significant sums from other sources.
The pueblo recently used $300,000 in donations to leverage $1.5 million in a grant from another tribe. The project qualified for an even larger grant that will pay for the restoration of an additional nine houses.
In Santa Fe, the Siler Yard project by the New Mexico Interfaith Housing Corporation and a number of Habitat for Humanity homes in Oshara Village are also eligible for the tax credit program.
To donate, just write a check specifying the developer of the project in the check memo. You’ll get a certificate for 50% back in state tax credits.