Putting plans in place requires the actual fundraising itself. Chambers of Commerce and Economic Development Organizations (EDO) can pursue numerous avenues to meet fundraising goals. Most economic developers can utilize the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program to access grants to develop viable communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment and expanding economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons. A common path for CDBG funds is to acquire or rehabilitate vacant buildings to construct rental housing. Real-world examples include an old school becoming workforce apartments in Roanoke County, Virginia, and the conversion of the former Tennessee State Supreme County building in Knoxville to a blend of residential apartments, hotels and short-term rentals.
Another path is the creation of an Investment Fund. The Greater Fremont Development Council (GFDC) conducted a housing study that increased awareness of the need for thousands of units to meet the growing demand. Procuring development interest was stagnant, so the GFDC created the Dodge County Investment Fund and Here We Grow Homes Fund to incentivize housing development. The programs offered gap financing for workforce housing developers, resulting in over 1,000 homes built in the past several years!
If gaining developer interest has proven fruitless, EDOs and chambers of commerce can follow the Centerville Development Corporation (CDC) path in South Dakota. The CDC has developed affordable housing for numerous years, buying and cleaning up dilapidated properties to make way for new housing opportunities. The CDC recently purchased 14 acres for a new housing development site.
Other approaches include:
- USDA Rural Housing Site Loans assist with purchasing and developing low- and moderate-income housing sites.
- Pattern Zoning pairs pre-approved buildings with development regulations to shorten the time required to get a permit to build high-quality housing.
- TIF Districts can include housing projects or create additional housing opportunities.
- Updating zoning codes to allow for unique housing solutions, such as container homes, tiny homes or second properties.
Housing shortage addressed
Developers are willing to invest in projects to address a housing crisis in communities regardless of size. Three historic downtown buildings in Louisville, KY, are being renovated to become a combination of housing, hotel and workspace. A Dallas, TX developer used tax credits available to historic properties and local tax-increment financing to help turn the 51-story First National Bank Tower into a mixed-use property featuring several restaurants, a hotel, offices, and 324 upscale apartments. The Blue Bell at Lenoir Mills offers residents a spacious loft living in downtown Lenoir, NC, in the former Lenoir Cotton Mill, originally built in 1901.
Add housing to any economic development strategy today
Convergent Nonprofit Solutions and its partners are focused on helping organizations meet their objectives by identifying the extent of housing needs, developing a plan to build housing and how to fund it. Our expertise in understanding Chambers of Commerce’s and EDOs’ role in communities nationwide means we have the strategic planning and fundraising knowledge to help address your housing shortages. Download this whitepaper on solving housing shortages, or contact us to learn how we can help your community achieve the success it is seeking today.