Mortgage lender seeks government funding for 1,400 affordable housing units

Clinch-Powell RC&D has been an active member of Fahe since 2009. Fahe, Inc. serves rural Appalachia in a variety of ways with a focus on housing.

Clinch-Powell has and continues to serve as leaders in our partnership with Fahe. In early 2022, Clinch-Powell staff began working closely with the Fahe Advocacy team in a strategic approach to request some of the ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funding that the State of TN received from the federal government. In a collaborative effort, we, along with other Tennessee Fahe non-profit housing agencies, NeighborWorks and the TAHRA (TN Association of Housing & Redevelopment Authorities) joined an alliance and began an advocacy/outreach campaign that included requests for support from local and state political leaders. We are optimistic that, if approved by the Fiscal Stimulus Accountability Group (FSAG), Clinch-Powell will receive a portion of the funding to continue to fill the need for quality, affordable housing for all families in the communities we serve.

The article below was recently published in the Nashville Business Journal. Please feel free to share it so that more community members and local politicians are aware of the very real need for more affordable, workforce housing throughout the state that can be provided by non-profit builders like Clinch-Powell RC&D. Thank you!

From the Nashville Business Journal:

An alliance Of nonprofits, housing advocates and a mortgage lender are proposing the state government allocate $100 million Of American Rescue plan Act funds toward the development Of affordable housing across Tennessee.

An alliance of nonprofits, housing advocates and a mortgage lender are proposing the state government allocate $100 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds toward the development of affordable housing across Tennessee.

Fahe TN, a subsidiary Of Kentucky-based mortgage lender Fahe, in partnership with the Tennessee Association of Housing and Redevelopment Authorities and Tennessee NeighborWorks affiliates, would use the money to develop or preserve 1,400 units of housing across Tennessee.

Maggie Riden, Fahe's director of advocacy, told the Business Journal she's "cautiously optimistic" about the state choosing to fund the proposal.

"The need for housing is so evident and so clear statewide, we're hearing it from [the Tennessee Housing Development Agency], from the economic development agencies, that we've sort of topped out. It's going to be hard to continue to grow the economy and attract business and keep folks in the state if we have nowhere to house them," Riden said. "The trends we're seeing show those middle-income or first-time homebuyers, they're the ones being squeezed out of the market the quickest. It's in the state's best interest to act quickly."

Tennessee has $148 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds yet to be allocated.

The coalition has been working to get the proposal in front Of Gov. Bill Lee and the Fiscal Stimulus Accountability Group since March, It came under formal review earlier this week, but no decisions were made at the time.

"We know this money exists, we know we can deliver. Now we're just sort of waiting," Riden said. "My hope is the decisions are made by January, if only because spending that much money is not a quick process, you have to get started now."

The money could bring more than just housing — a Fahe press release says the investment would lead to further economic growth. Over two years, an $260 million investment in affordable housing in Minnesota generated roughly $470 million in additional public and private funds, and resulted in $1.4 billion in economic activity, the release states, which in turn generated roughly $62.5 million in state and local tax revenue.

Kentucky-based Fahe is a community development financial institution established to serve central Appalachia, and works in communities from Maryland to Alabama. Riden said the group has extensive experience bringing private investment and grant funding to the state.

Between 2018 and 2020, Fahe and its Neighborworks America partners deployed over $343 million in public and private funding to secure 4,343 units of housing for over 8,500 Tennesseans, according to the release.

Neighborworks America is a nonprofit organization with offices across the country. Its area partners that would benefit from the proposal include Affordable Housing Resources, various Tennessee branches of Habitat for Humanity and United Housing Inc.. among others.

Between the various nonprofit partners, Riden said, the funding would break down to around $70,000 per unit.

"Realistically, the units, whether they're rental or single family, will cost between $100,00 and $150,000, depending on where you build. So how do we fill that gap?" Riden said. "That's where there's some benefits to this plan because the groups that would receive this funding have this experience stacking dollars. They can blend the [American Rescue Plan Act] money with state money or private investment or grant dollars to close that financing gap."

The cost of land in Tennessee has skyrocketed in recent years as more companies and transplants have moved into the region and development has boomed. The sooner the group can secure the funding, the smaller that cost gap between the government funds and nonprofit dollars could be.

Middle Tennessee's housing inventory is beginning to approach pre-pandemic levels — a study from Greater Nashville Realtors found there were 10,128 homes available on the market at the start Of November — but the region's need is expected to increase in the coming years as companies such as Oracle begin to open local offices and attract more workers to the region.

The cities surrounding Nashville, once considered bedroom communities that could house people who worked in the City. are facing their own shortages, Clarksville, Lebanon and Spring Hill have all in recent years seen announcements from companies that have promised to create hundreds (in some cases thousands) Of jobs in those cities, further increasing demand for housing in those communities.

Ian Bradley
Nashville Business Journal