THE HISTORY OF THE HOUSING FUND
“how do we know who we are if we don’t know where we’ve been”
Ma Joad, The Grapes of Wrath
The Housing Fund, Inc (THF) is a private, 501(c)(3) organization established to finance affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization projects throughout Middle Tennessee, including Montgomery County. Since its incorporation in 1996, THF has assisted over 3,337 first time homebuyers with downpayment assistance loans, as well as providing more than $51 million in financing to assist individuals and organizations purchase, rehabilitate, or construct homes for low and moderate income families.
THF’s story began in 1993 with a community wide planning effort, Nashville’s Agenda. Nashville’s Agenda was a citizen led effort bringing together all of the City’s disparate communities to dream about and develop “21 goals for the 21st Century.” In 1995, out of these visioning sessions, a Housing Action Team organized around three objectives:
1. Establish a clearing house to coordinate affordable homeownership opportunities;
2. Increase the supply of affordable and subsidized housing; and
3. Invest more resources in current housing solutions; create more incentives to develop property.
In March 1996 the Nashville Housing Fund (NHF) is chartered as a “component unit” of the local public housing agency, a separate Nashville Housing Fund Board is appointed, and NHF receives IRS 501(c)3 status in May. Four local banks pledge $250,000 each to capitalize a new affordable housing loan fund. Eight additional banks soon follow with similar investments. In September 1996, NHF makes its very first downpayment assistance loan to a qualified low to moderate income family.
In 1999 NHF legally separates from the public housing agency becoming a separate legal entity, the “big 4” banks increase their investments to $1 million each, and NHF applies to the U.S. Department of Treasury for status as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). Concurrently NHF applies for and in 2000 receives $2 million in CDFI funds, which are matched by locally raised funds from the Metropolitan Government of Nashville-Davidson County and other local sources. With these funds, in 2001, NHF starts its Development Loan Program financing the construction of affordable homebuyer and rental housing developments and expands its existing Downpayment Assistance Loan Program.
In 2002 NHF outgrows its original offices and applies to the State of Tennessee for Low Income Housing Tax Credits to develop the mixed use Laurel House Apartments with NHF offices on the first floor. The credits are awarded and NHF begins construction of the development in the newly created Gulch Redevelopment District. In 2004 NHF moves to Laurel House, becoming the first new residential development in the District.
In 2005 the NHF Board votes to expand outside Davidson County and changes the organization’s name to The Housing Fund (THF). THF now offers development loan services to the surrounding counties comprising the Metropolitan Statistical Area. In 2006 THF opens an office in Clarksville, Tennessee at that city’s request, staffing it with a Loan Specialist and Program Coordinator. In 2007 THF hires a Director of Regional Services, opens an additional office in Bowling Green, Kentucky servicing a three county region, and enters into an agreement with the City of Franklin, Tennessee.
In 2010, following devastating flooding in Nashville-Davidson County that damaged over 11,000 properties, THF, working the Metropolitan Government and the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency, leads a flood recovery program for impacted homeowners that ultimately distributes over $13 million in federal disaster recovery funds. During that same period, THF successfully authors a $30 million application for Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and joins a local consortium of non-profit agencies developing and redeveloping foreclosed and vacant properties.
In 2013 the flood recovery and NSP programs end. In their wake, THF expands its product offerings and mission from assisting low to moderate income homebuyers and affordable housing developers to include meeting broader community development financing needs, receiving a $1.3 million CDFI fund award to assist homeowners with energy-saving retrofit and repair projects and to develop real estate based loan programs for community facilities and neighborhood businesses. In early 2014 THF receives statewide FHA certification and has begun offering its homebuyer assistance programs throughout Tennessee.
Today, with a dedicated and experienced staff and an effective and engaged Board of Directors, THF continues to be a regional leader in affordable housing and community development initiatives and policy development. The Housing Fund is a certified and growing Community Development Financial Institution with an exceptional industry rating and over $20 million in total assets. As it has through its history, THF continues to find innovative ways to meet the financial needs of the communities it services.