How HAC’s Loan Application Packaging Training Supports Homeownership

HAC and rural CDFIs receive “massive” $353 million investment

The US Treasury announced it is investing $1.25 billion of COVID-19 relief funds in Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). We are excited to announce that the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) has received the maximum award: $1,826,265.

HAC will invest our $1.8 million award through our Loan Fund to support affordable housing organizations across rural America. As Eileen Neely, director of HAC’s Loan Fund explains, “$1.8 million means we can invest in more rural communities and help more low-income Americans get housed.”

Overall, the US Treasury is awarding $353 million to rural CDFIs. “This massive investment in rural CDFIs will help unlock the potential of rural communities,” said David Lipsetz, President & CEO of the Housing Assistance Council. “We are thrilled for the opportunity to expand our work for disinvested rural communities.”

Everyone deserves a safe, decent, and affordable place to call home. This award strengthens HAC’s work to make that vision a reality for rural America.

Our Work

A celebration of Black history and Black families

February is Black History Month. At HAC, we observe this important time by reflecting on the history of Black Americans and the contributions they’ve made to our communities for more than 400 years . Black history matters. Tragically, just as America has silenced and ignored Black voices, we have omitted Black history.

Even today, we often leave Black Americans out of our conception of rural America. Racial minorities represent 23% of rural America, yet they make up almost 60% of the population of rural counties with persistent poverty. These are the communities HAC serves, and we stand steadfast in our commitment to them. Every day, our work helps the most underserved rural communities meet their housing needs.

The Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the founders of Black History Month, have named this February’s theme to be The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity. While community developers build houses, it’s families that make them into homes. Our work has supported Black families build community and access the safe, affordable housing they deserve for decades.

We’re excited to take this month to celebrate Black families and their contributions to rural America. This month, we’ll be highlighting our work with Black communities and sharing more about our ongoing commitment to them. For 50 years, HAC has helped build homes in the most rural and poorest places in America. Our work is driven by a commitment to making the more just and equitable world we dream of. Still, there is much work to be done to realize that dream of true equity and justice. We hope you’ll join us in that work.

Our Work

HAC Awarded Nearly $1.3 Million in SHOP Funding

Last week, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development announced it has awarded the Housing Assistance Council almost $1.3 million under its Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP). Under the self-help model, homebuyers contribute hundreds of hours of labor as “sweat equity” instead of a down payment, making their new home more affordable.

HAC will lend this $1.3 million to organizations around the country building affordable self-help homes in rural communities. In fact, our lending will help finance the land purchase and infrastructure improvements necessary to build at least 69 self-help homes for low-income families.

If the borrowers meet their production goals, up to 90% of the loan can be forgiven.  This forgiveness frees up more funding for the organization to make the homes even more affordable, establish a revolving loan fund, or fund future self-help housing development. We are thankful for the opportunity to continue investing in the organizations making more affordable housing for rural America.

White Mountain Apache Housing Authority Serves its Veterans

The White Mountain Apache Housing Authority (WMAHA) helps the members of the White Mountain Apache Tribe to overcome their individual housing needs. Of these, almost 500 are U.S. military veterans. Working in the Fort Apache Indian Reservation located in eastern central Arizona, WMAHA serves the 16,000 enrolled members of the White Mountain Apache Tribe and strives to ensure that every tribal member has safe housing they can afford. The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) is proud to be a partner of WMAHA and their amazing work. In 2018, we awarded a $30,000 grant through The Home Depot Foundation‘s Veteran Housing Grants Program to WMAHA to help support their veterans. In celebration of Veterans Day and Native American Heritage Month, we’d like to highlight just a few of the many ways the White Mountain Apache Housing Authority serves the veterans of the White Mountain Apache Tribe.

Before rehab of a veteran’s home completed by WMAHA in 2018 

Before rehab of a veteran’s home completed by WMAHA in 2018

After rehab of a veteran’s home completed by WMAHA in 2018 

After rehab of a veteran’s home completed by WMAHA in 2018

Before and after of a rehab of a veteran’s home completed by WMAHA in 2018 

 

As many veterans know, service doesn’t end when you’re discharged. It’s a value that is carried for a lifetime. For WMAHA, service is key to the mission. The Veteran Home Rehabilitation Program serves those who have served our country. Many of the low-income Apache veterans the Housing Authority assists are in desperate need of multiple, expensive repairs to make sure their homes are safe, accessible, and livable. But without the ability to make these repairs themselves, many veterans need help.

Over the last eight years, the White Mountain Apache Housing Authority has rehabilitated (or in one case built!) 19 homes for their veterans, each of which required multiple major repairs for health, safety, and accessibility. All of this was performed at no cost to the veteran or their family. Last year WMAHA was able to set a record with 5 rehabilitations.

Making sure their veterans have safe and healthy homes is a point of pride for WMAHA and for the entire White Mountain Apache community. After all, WMAHA doesn’t work alone: each rehabilitation is made possible by scores of volunteers. As the team from WMAHA explains, “the number of volunteers who come and help with demolition and construction cleanup during the projects” is a testament to the rehabilitation program’s “impact on the community.” From the Housing Authority to everyday members, including community partners, the White Mountain Apache Tribe takes care of its veterans. By taking care of those who took care of us, WMAHA is serving both its community and the broader community of veterans nationwide.

The COVID pandemic has hit many Native communities particularly hard, and tragically, the White Mountain Apache are no exception. During the pandemic, unemployment, which usually runs 80% according to WMAHA, has far surpassed that amount, and food insecurity is “at a critical level.” Many of the low-income veterans WMAHA assists don’t have a way to pick up food from the local food bank, so the Housing Authority is starting to deliver the food boxes itself. Not content to just help house their veterans, WMAHA is committed to improving their quality of life.

Caring for veterans extends outside the home, too. For WMAHA, ensuring their veterans have access to the Veterans Affairs benefits they deserve is a critical mission. With 1.67 million acres, the Fort Apache Indian Reservation is large and rural. This creates challenges for many of the Tribe’s low-income veterans. Many of the nearest VA hospitals are hundreds of miles away, which makes even getting to routine appointments incredibly difficult. This distance makes it so challenging to receive disability ratings, see specialists, and make necessary appointments that, according to Barb Connerley, a consultant who works with WMAHA, “many of the veterans…do not know what VA benefits are available to them.”

This veteran’s home was in such disrepair the team from WMAHA decided to tear it down and start from scratch.

This veteran’s home was in such disrepair the team from WMAHA decided to tear it down and start from scratch.

This veteran’s home was in such disrepair the team from WMAHA decided to tear it down and start from scratch.

This veteran’s home was in such disrepair the team from WMAHA decided to tear it down and start from scratch.

This veteran’s home was in such disrepair the team from WMAHA decided to tear it down and start from scratch.

The White Mountain Apache Housing Authority has created a solution to help connect their veterans to the VA medical care they earned through their service. Since 2017, the White Mountain Apache Tribe Department of Transportation has operated Fort Apache Connection Transit (FACT), a 2-route bus system serving 12 stops across the Reservation. While this system doesn’t provide access to the nearest VA hospitals, the Housing Authority recently began repurposing one of their buses to transport veterans to their VA appointments. Multiple times a month, WMAHA will be providing veterans with a bus ride to their appointments and back home. They even take the time to help the veterans complete their paperwork to file for VA benefits.

For the trip, WMAHA provides their veterans with water, snacks, masks, and COVID safety information. They hope that this program can also serve as a teaching event, helping their veterans learn more about COVID safety as well as how to access their VA benefits. The program’s strength is its ingenuity—bringing together transit, healthcare, and informational services—in solving a critical problem for the Tribe’s veterans. Thanks to the White Mountain Apache Housing Authority, veterans living on reservation now have access to the critical VA healthcare they’ve earned through their service.

Many veterans return from their service to find it difficult to access the resources of their communities, including housing. Tragically, Native communities are overrepresented among persistent poverty counties, making these resources even harder to access. The Housing Assistance Council is committed to helping build community resources for housing where they’re needed most. Partners like WMAHA help us give back to our veterans and uplift Native communities. As Barb Connerley puts it, the Tribe’s veterans “have a proud tradition of military service and sacrifice.” The work of the White Mountain Apache Housing Authority pays respect to that service and sacrifice through service, care, and ingenuity of its own.

HAC Seeks Proposals for Housing Projects Serving Rural Veterans

January 2017

homedepotfoundationlogoSupported by The Home Depot Foundation, grants will go to nonprofits, tribally designated housing entities, and housing authorities serving veterans at or below 80% of area median income in rural areas. Projects may be new construction or rehab, temporary or permanent housing, in progress or beginning within 12 months. Letters of Interest are due Feb. 3, 2017.

ELIGIBILITY. The applicant must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, tribally designated housing entity (TDHE), or housing authority acting as a nonprofit, that serves veterans at or below 80% of area median income. RURAL SERVICE AREA. The applicant must apply to support programs working in nonmetropolitan areas or in counties that meet the USDA definition of rural for housing (Sec. 520 of the Housing Act of 1949). Please check the USDA Property Eligibility Site, https://eligibility.sc.egov.usda.gov, to determine rural eligibility.

Contact Shonterria Charleston, Program Manager, 404-892-4824.


HAC Names Shonterria Charleston Director of Training and Technical Assistance

Jeff MosleyThe Housing Assistance Council would like to thank Jeff Mosley for over nine years of service to rural America at HAC. As the Director of HAC’s Training and Technical Assistance Division, he helped guide thousands of person-hours and millions of dollars to develop communities in need. Jeff leaves for New Zealand as a 2018 Ian Axford Fellow in Public Policy, a prestigious opportunity. Jeff’s work will focus on how underserved communities access capital for developing affordable housing and community facilities, while also looking at capacity building support resources for community-led organizations.

Shonterria CharlestonHAC is also pleased to announce that our own Shonterria Charleston will step into the Director of Technical Assistance and Training position. In a career spanning several positions at HAC, Shonterria has brought tremendous knowledge, enthusiasm and dedication to her work. In her most recent position as Program and Training Manager, she oversaw HAC’s RCDI program, Veterans Initiative and training activities. Having served in the Army, Shonterria champions and cares deeply about the many issues and challenges veterans encounter. She also speaks movingly about how her role as a mom and daughter deepens her commitment to rural housing and social issues.

As the Director, Shonterria will supervise the division and HAC’s regional offices. She will direct our work on site in rural communities; and manage various grants and initiatives from her office in Georgia. Shonterria will also lead us in preparing for HAC’s 2018 national conference.

David Lipsetz, HAC’s Executive Director, said, “I have no doubt that her enthusiasm and professional talent will continue to serve HAC well, strengthen our relationships with rural-serving partners and allow us to effectively serve the needs of rural communities.”

Please join the HAC in welcoming Shonterria into this new role.

HAC Seeks Proposals for Housing Projects Serving Rural Veterans

January 2017

homedepotfoundationlogoSupported by The Home Depot Foundation, grants will go to nonprofits, tribally designated housing entities, and housing authorities serving veterans at or below 80% of area median income in rural areas. Projects may be new construction or rehab, temporary or permanent housing, in progress or beginning within 12 months. Letters of Interest are due Feb. 3, 2017.

ELIGIBILITY. The applicant must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, tribally designated housing entity (TDHE), or housing authority acting as a nonprofit, that serves veterans at or below 80% of area median income. RURAL SERVICE AREA. The applicant must apply to support programs working in nonmetropolitan areas or in counties that meet the USDA definition of rural for housing (Sec. 520 of the Housing Act of 1949). Please check the USDA Property Eligibility Site, https://eligibility.sc.egov.usda.gov, to determine rural eligibility.

Contact Shonterria Charleston, Program Manager, 404-892-4824.


Aging Veterans in the United States Cover

Aging Veterans in the United States

A snapshot of older veterans and their social, economic, and housing characteristics.

To better understand and inform strategies and policies for America’s aging veterans, the Housing Assistance Council has published Aging Veterans in the United States an analysis of data describing the older veteran population.

The United States is on the cusp of an extensive and far-reaching demographic transformation as the senior population is expected to nearly double by 2050. This is similarly the case for the veteran segment of the population who make up about 9 percent of the U.S. population. A large and growing proportion of this veteran population is composed of those age 55 and over, “older” Americans. As this group grows older, it is important to consider their unique characteristics and issues, which include health problems and physical limitations associated with aging. A rapidly aging population will significantly impact nearly all aspects of the nation’s social, economic, and housing systems.