DCA, partners mark launch of affordable housing initiative

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) granted the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Coalition Revolving Fund $8 million in Tax Credit Assistance Payment (TCAP) funds to support the acquisition, construction and/or rehabilitation of multi-family affordable housing across the state. On Jan. 31, DCA staff, partners and supporters gathered to commemorate this occasion and celebrate the closing of the first loan: $2 million in construction financing for Ashbury Apartments in Valdosta. This dwelling will provide 76 new affordable housing apartment units once complete.

The CDFI Coalition Revolving Fund (CCRF), formed in 2019, is a collection of individual CDFIs certified by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s CDFI Fund to provide financial services to low-income communities and to people who lack access to financing. Meaghan Shannon-Vlkovic of Enterprise Community Partners, a national organization that brings capital, policy and solutions to the development of affordable housing across the country, explained the fund in more detail to attendees.

“The program aims to deploy capital in rural, urban and suburban communities in areas of opportunity, and the funds will match funding from CDFI and low-interest special sources of capital (when it's available),” Shannon-Vlkovic said. “The first round will focus on gap financing including acquisition, construction and/or rehab of multi-family developments for 4% and 9% low-income housing tax credit deals with the possibility of when it revolves, we can then look at homeownership and other affordable housing finance innovation in future rounds.”

She recalled how multiple partners, both private and public, were exploring policy and resources to support affordable housing development. Proximity to transit was also key as it affected access to jobs, healthcare and education.

“DCA was a partner in these conversations all the way,” Shannon-Vlkovic said. “As we began to review lessons from other public-private structured loan funds across the country, DCA took an interest in also building the strength of CDFIs in Georgia through collaborative models.”

DCA issued an RFP for this effort and the organizations that came together reflect the founding members of coalition: Community Redevelopment Loan and Investment Fund, Inc. (“Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership Loan Fund” or “ANDP”, a Georgia nonprofit corporation); Enterprise Community Loan Fund (a Maryland nonstock, nonprofit company); Columbus Housing Initiative, Inc. (“NeighborWorks Columbus” or “NWC”, a Georgia nonprofit corporation); Reinvestment Fund, Inc. (Pennsylvania nonprofit corporation); and Southwest Georgia United Empowerment Zone, Inc. (“SGU”, a Georgia nonprofit corporation).

The goal of this partnership is to build the capacity and balance sheets of Georgia’s CDFIs, allowing them to impact communities in the state and leverage DCA’s funds and other public and private capital. In the first deployment of the $8 million, ANDP is serving as the fund administrator and Enterprise and Reinvestment Fund, Inc. are serving as the loan underwriters and servicers. The remaining members serve as partners connecting rural and suburban housing developers to the program.

Shannon-Vlkovic said, “CCRF with DCA has successfully launched a program that has been designed to support financing of affordable housing across the state of Georgia while responsibly expending federal dollars and strengthening CDFIs vastly.”

DCA Commissioner Christopher Nunn lauded the work that was involved in creating the fund and its first closing. He said it was an inflection point from an affordable housing standpoint across the state.

Furthermore, the launch reflected the connection and alignment of strategic goals for the agency and Gov. Brian Kemp’s goals for the state. In his remarks, Commissioner Nunn noted two goals in particular.

“Looking at how we continue to build on those public-private partnerships to address affordable housing needs – that is one thing I am extremely proud of in this regard,” he said. “The other is the work that we’re doing together – and this program will help to advance – around strengthening rural Georgia.”

Jill Cromartie, DCA Division Director for Housing Development and Finance, reflected on 2009’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which awarded TCAP funds to all 50 states for pairing with tax credit deals. Basic tenets of the funds included being paired with a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) board, serving citizens at 80% Area Median Income (AMI) or less, and having a 15-year minimum affordability program.

DCA structured its TCAP program as a loan program which provided an opportunity for the funds to be issued repeatedly due to HUD’s classification of mortgage and loan payments as programmed income, and its accrual is how DCA was able to fund the CCRF.

“The members of the CDFIs are located all around the state,” Cromartie said. “The goal has been to equip [them] with a leveraging source to fund affordable housing throughout the state of Georgia.”

Nancy Wagner-Hislip, chief investment officer for Reinvestment Fund, said they were able to provide their first CCRF loan to Ashbury Apartments only two weeks after the fund was established with DCA. The entire project is approximately $7.1 million, and the $2 million CCRF loan was part of the investment.

IDP Properties is the developer, and Ashbury marks the third project in which Reinvestment Fund, Inc. has collaborated. Wagner-Hislip said, “They are excellent partners in community development, and they bring significant passion and creativity to their work. They are always looking for the best resources and opportunities to support their communities, and we were happy to be able to put something together that was really helpful to them which included the $2 million CCRF loan.”

Rhett Holmes, IDP Properties president, said Ashbury was a much-needed development near the hospital, university, a park, and several pharmacies. He said although Valdosta is not considered a rural area, there are still rural components which required collaboration with the city and landowners in order to move the project forward.

“It turned out to be a phenomenal property and we are under construction right now,” Holmes said. “We appreciate our partnership with DCA and the Reinvestment Fund, and hopefully we can make you proud.” For more information about Ashbury and CCRF, visit www.ccrfgeorgia.org.