Economic development and chamber professionals throughout the country are telling us how desperately their communities need to see growth in housing inventory. Much of this pressure is coming from the business community. Without sufficient housing, they can’t hire workers and even people who want to stay after graduating can’t. If your community is in this situation, it’s time to put an aggressive plan in place for developing housing. Fortunately, there are funding strategies that can help you to do it.
Leverage Grants to Build New Housing Units
Communities who leverage grant funds are in position to build housing faster. As an example, Pierce County Economic Development Corporation (PCEDC) has effectively leveraged grant funds to generate developer interest. Since most developers are hesitant to invest in rural communities, grants can be used to mitigate their risk. In their case, the grant came from the Nebraska Rural Housing Trust Funds, but the organization was required to contribute financially as well. When a contribution or match is required, Convergent’s capital campaign services can help to raise those funds. This is a core component of what we do.
In Pierce County, half of their housing project was paid for through grant funds. Because of these incentives, the developer was able to purchase additional units that were in disrepair, bringing them online for additional housing. Pierce County isn’t the only community leveraging grant funds for development or redevelopment projects. Phelps County has also successfully leveraged grant funds, but in their case, grants go to individual homeowners looking to build or renovate a property for personal use.
Establish a Housing Investment or Loan Fund
The Greater Fremont Development Council conducted a housing study and found that they needed thousands of units to meet the growing demand. Unfortunately, larger developers weren’t showing an interest. To incentivize housing development they secured financial support from community investors to form the Dodge County Investment Fund and Here We Grow Homes Fund as a gap financing mechanism. Since housing impacts everyone in the community, from utility providers to higher education and businesses across all sectors, there is a large group of potential investors in every community. Convergent helps organizations to identify who those potential investors are and how to communicate the benefit of their supporting initiatives aimed at spurring housing development.
In Greater Fremont, these funds have resulted in over 1,000 homes being built in the past several years – just in time for them to recruit new jobs to the community.
Form a Public-Private Partnership With Major Employers
Major employers can be a source of land and funding. In Springfield, Ohio, for example, the local hospital has donated land where workforce housing can be built. A longstanding client of Convergent, the Greater Springfield Partnership raised over $4 million in their last campaign through effectively communicating a vision for what’s possible in Springfield. Those relationships continue to pay dividends as major employers see results and look for additional ways to contribute.
They’re not alone. Apple and Google have pledged billions to help solve the housing crisis in California. And Universal is building workforce housing in Florida. Coast to coast, major employers are working with community leaders to solve the housing crisis. It’s up to economic developers, chamber and nonprofit leaders to build the case for what’s needed in the community, develop a plan and make the ask. Convergent makes it easier to do so through our strategic process and the establishment of Asking Rights.
Addressing Homelessness in Everett, Washington
Though workforce housing is a top priority for economic developers and community leaders throughout the country, providing shelter for homeless populations is also a necessity. With rising housing prices and inflation, this may become a more significant issue for low-income populations that are already facing housing insecurity.
Everett, Washington is piloting a program to increase shelter opportunities. The Pallet Shelter program is managed by the Everett Gospel Mission with funding paid for by a state grant, Snohomish County Human Services, and ARPA funds. They estimate that 30 individuals will be housed at any one time. In Convergent’s experience, bringing nonprofits and local governments together is key to increasing opportunities for shelter within a community. But, they aren’t the only ones interested in housing the homeless. Local businesses may also be interested in supporting specific programs aimed at getting people properly housed. This is especially true when there is a direct impact on their operations. Convergent has the expertise necessary to have those conversations and secure business support for housing initiatives.
Solve Your Community’s Housing Shortage through Combined, Strategic Efforts
Convergent and our partners can help your community to identify the extent of your housing needs, develop a plan to build housing and how to fund it. Then, through a combination of approaches, Convergent can help your community to raise the capital necessary to make a long term impact on housing. Schedule a meeting to discuss your specific needs and how we can assist you.