April 2018
Success Story: Laurel Teel, Montgomery
Montgomery homebuyer Laurel Teel recently paired AHFA’s Step Up program with a Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) also offered through AHFA.

Hear more about her homebuying journey by viewing the video to the right.
Interview with Felicia Jackson:
Developers & Community Agencies Partnering to Utilize AHFA Programs to House Low-Income & Special Needs Populations
Beginning in 2016, AHFA multifamily programs were expanded to provide additional funding and incentives on a limited basis for the creation of affordable rental housing for Alabama’s extremely low-income, homeless, and special needs populations. AHFA designed a point preference for developers who set aside at least five percent of HOME and/or LIHTC-financed units for people who are homeless or with disabilities. Units must be actively marketed and rented to households with at least one tenant with a disability or a tenant transitioning from being homeless.

Through the point preference incentive for HOME/LIHTC and administering the targeted funding of the National Housing Trust Fund, AHFA is promoting a statewide commitment to end homelessness by addressing the needs of extremely low-income and special needs populations, and bringing those who need housing together with those that provide housing.

HUD’s Continuum of Care (CoC) program is designed to promote a community-wide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness. In addition to providing funds to nonprofit service providers as well state and local governments to quickly rehouse homeless individuals and families while minimizing trauma and dislocation, it promotes access to other programs, and optimizes self-sufficiency among those who are homeless. 

Felicia Jackson is the Executive Director of the Alabama Balance of State Continuum of Care, which is composed of representatives of relevant organizations in 42 Alabama counties. Jackson recently answered questions about how critical partnerships between the development community, Alabama CoCs, and their member agencies to fully utilize AHFA funding and incentives are to addressing housing needs.

Q: How can developers, CoCs, and their member agencies work together to address housing needs?

A: CoCs share information with developers about the need for a continuum of permanent supportive housing and a broad spectrum of services available for highly vulnerable populations. Our hope is that more developers will opt to voluntarily set aside units for the homeless and/or special needs populations that CoCs and our member agencies assist in rural Alabama counties. CoCs will provide a support letter regarding the need for the housing development as well as a memorandum of understanding (MOU). The MOU is a firm agreement that encourages cooperation between the parties and outlines their intention to work together to provide clearly defined supportive services to eligible residents and enhance their ability to maintain independent living. Our goal is to make the CoC navigation process as streamlined and efficient as possible to support the developer’s efforts.

Q: Why is it important to have these groups working together? 

A: HUD requires that each CoC perform an annual count of homeless persons who are in an emergency shelter, transitional housing, or unsheltered on a single night. Point-in-Time (PIT) counts are essential to understanding the extent and nature of homelessness in our state’s rural counties. The number of individuals experiencing homelessness and their characteristics provides insight into the needs of clients as well as highlights trends in homelessness. In 2017, the PIT count showed 74 persons in emergency shelter, 243 in transitional housing, and 230 unsheltered. This information underscores the need for more permanent supportive housing in general, as well as the need for more set-aside units, and counties which will benefit most. 

Q: What are some successes you’ve seen so far? 

A: There has been an increased interest among developers to learn more about the CoC process and support our efforts. CoCs have already established partnerships with developers by executing MOUs, and will continue to make referrals and provide supportive services through local collaboration for persons housed in affordable permanent housing. Thus far, developers have set aside more than 93 newly constructed or rehabilitated units to house special needs and homeless persons throughout the state. These units should be completed and available for occupancy in 2018 and 2019, and will require a continued joint effort among the developers, CoCs, and their member agencies.

AHFA looks forward to sharing continued progress. For more information about multifamily programs, visit http://www.ahfa.com/multifamily or contact ahfa.mf.general@ahfa.com . For questions about the Alabama Balance of State Continuum of Care and the work of its member agencies, Felicia Jackson can be reached at felicia@archconnection.org .
Success Story: Atemon Family, Decatur
Nephateria (Neph) Atemon moved to Alabama from Colorado in 2006 with son, Devon, and daughter, Sarah, to be closer to family in Decatur. She found an apartment and a job and settled in.

Their family expanded when Neph married Timothy, and again when second son, Cameron, was born in 2012. By the time third son, Kaleb, was born in 2014, Neph’s three-bedroom apartment was bursting at the seams, and costing them $700 in rent each month.

The Atemons felt they had limited options. They wanted to own a home, but didn’t see how it was possible. “My husband and I never really established credit in our names so we didn't have bad credit; we just didn't have ANY credit. We found it hard to try and get a loan for a house not having any credit," said Neph.

Neph’s mother encouraged them to apply with the Habitat for Humanity of Morgan County. “I applied for Habitat for Humanity on one of my restless nights on the couch, thinking the worst thing that can happen is I get denied,” she said. “I was wrong! We got accepted into the program, and the rest is history!”

The Atemon family jumped into the process with enthusiasm. Neph said, “There was a lot of paperwork and, at times, it could be a bit overwhelming. But when I would think even just for one second that I can land up with a house afterwards … that was my motivation.”

Lydia Beck, family services coordinator for HFH of Morgan County , recalls working with the Atemon family, “When the Atemons applied to the Habitat program, their family of five (with one on the way) was crammed into a small apartment that was much too small for their family. The rent and utilities were eating up 37 percent of their monthly income. On their application, they said, We both have dreamed of owning our own home and are determined to do whatever it takes to be homeowners. I don’t know if I’ve ever worked with a more grateful family. It was such a pleasure to partner with a family who truly appreciated what you were doing to create a better future for them and their children!”

The Atemons enjoyed helping to build houses and plant trees in Habitat’s Denver Place subdivision while waiting for construction on their home to begin. “For us, the fun part began when we did construction hours,” said Neph. “It was exciting going to help build someone else’s home thinking one day we are going to be doing ours. We helped build about four or five homes on our block and planted some trees. It’s nice to be able to drive down the block and say we helped build these houses or we planted that tree.”

Tim, Neph, and their four children moved in immediately after the dedication ceremony for their house in June 2016. “We transitioned from renting very well,” said Neph. “We really enjoyed going to the classes that basically teach you how to be a great homeowner. We still use stuff we learned during builds to help us with our home. We think the whole process is VERY educational and a great experience for anyone. You can't beat hands-on experience.”

Two years later and the Atemons still love being homeowners. Neph said, “So far everything has been wonderful, and we just added a privacy fence to our backyard. The kids love it, but I don't think they love it as much as myself and my husband. We love having our own bedroom and a home we are buying, not wasting our money on renting. It feels amazing every day, and every day I am forever grateful for the Lord, the Habitat for Humanity program, and every other program that makes it possible for people like our family to one day become homeowners.”
Public Hearing Held Regarding 2018 HTF Plan and Annual Action Plan
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) and AHFA conducted a public hearing regarding the Draft 2018 AHFA National Housing Trust Fund Allocation Plan (HTF) and the proposed PY2018 One-Year Annual Action Plans for the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG), the Emergency Solutions Grants Program (ESG), and the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS Program (HOPWA) on April 26.

Comments on the Draft 2018 HTF Plan will be accepted no later than Saturday, May 26

Please use the  HTF comment form  and submit to AHFA at  ahfa.mf.amendments@ahfa.com .
Student Spotlight: Dana Quintero Rodriguez, Mobile
In 2000, the Alabama Affordable Housing Association (AAHA) created a scholarship program for residents of member-owned apartment properties in Alabama. The scholarship funds are donated by the owners, contractors, architects, accountants, property management companies, investors, lenders, developers, and various vendors that make up AAHA’s membership as well as other non-member individuals. Since its inception, the AAHA resident scholarship fund has awarded more than $500,000 in scholarships.

Meet Dana Quintero Rodriguez of Cottage Hill Pointe Apartments in Mobile:

Venezuela-born Dana Quintero Rodriguez is in her first year at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, thanks in part to her AAHA scholarship funds.

“Any scholarship is very helpful because, as many people know, college tuition is very expensive. I wouldn’t be able to go to this school if not for outside scholarships, said Dana. “This is one more organization that decided to help me go to my dream school and do what I want to do.”

An only child, Dana immigrated to the U.S. with her parents when she was very young. “By the time I was born, there was a political movement going on that wasn’t that bad then, but my parents foresaw it was going to get worse,” she said. “So they applied for political asylum, and we came to the U.S.”

A 2017 honor graduate of Baker High School in Mobile, Dana is majoring in Biomedical Sciences on the pre-med track. Her goal is to pursue a medical degree and specialize in immunology.

Such big aspirations would only have been possible with financial assistance, so the manager of Cottage Hill Pointe and her mother encouraged her to apply for the resident scholarship program. In addition to the scholarship funds awarded by AAHA, Dana was named a 2017 recipient of a Scholarship Foundation scholarship from the national Council for Affordable and Rural Housing. The CARH scholarship provides Dana an additional $1,500 per semester for up to four years.

For more information about the resident scholarship program, please contact Arrice Faught, AAHA’s executive director at arrice@theaaha.org or 205.758.1158.    
AHFA to Host Selfie Contest in June to Celebrate National Homeownership Month
On June 1, AHFA will launch this year's selfie contest to celebrate National Homeownership Month. The contest is open to anyone who has used an AHFA program to buy their home (or who closes on a home in June using an AHFA program). A $500, $250, and a $100 gift card are up for grabs!

Full contest details will be coming soon to www.AHFA.com and AHFA's social media channels.
New Commercials Created for HHA Marketing Campaign to Start Airing Soon
Watch for new commercials advertising Hardest Hit Alabama (HHA) on broadcast channels in your area.

HHA offers programs including mortgage payment assistance for unemployed or underemployed homeowners, as well as loan modification and short sale options for borrowers facing financial hardships. Hardest Hit Alabama is a foreclosure prevention program administered by AHFA and funded by the U.S. Treasury Department.

Hardest Hit Alabama
FHLBank Atlanta's 2018 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) Competitive Round will open on June 1. Up to $500,000 per project will be awarded through a competitive application process. These funds help FHLBank Atlanta member financial institutions and their community partners develop affordable owner-occupied and rental housing for very low- to moderate-income families and individuals. 

The FHLBank Atlanta is offering training sessions for housing developers and sponsors which will address project eligibility, scoring, and the online application process. Webinars are offered on May 8 and June 5.

AHFA Offices to Close for May Holiday
The AHFA, ServiSolutions, and Hardest Hit Alabama offices will be closed Monday, May 28 in observance of the Memorial Day holiday.

We will reopen at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, May 29.
Alabama Housing Finance Authority | Montgomery, Alabama | 334.244.9200 | Email | Website