June 2020
AHFA Board of Directors Meets in June

The AHFA Board of Directors met June 25. Among other business, the board approved the 2018/2019 National Housing Trust Fund awards, the 2020 competitive application cycle funding awards, and the draft 2021 HOME, Housing Credit, and Housing Trust Fund allocation plans. They also approved the issuance of multifamily bonds for the South Oak Residences project, an acquisition/rehabilitation of a 94-unit, three-phase development in Foley.
2020 Multifamily Housing Development Awards
On June 25, AHFA announced the 20 multifamily housing developments selected by its board of directors to receive awards of 2020 HOME Investment Partnerships and/or Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.

Of the approved applications, 10 are for new construction developments, and 10 are for the acquisition/rehabilitation of existing housing stock. A total of 1,018 housing units are expected to be built or renovated.

You may click on the infographic to enlarge the view.

For a listing of funding approvals, visit  http://ow.ly/e1xh50utamR .

AHFA also announced the approval of five National Housing Trust awards, creating an additional 42 units for extremely low-income households.
Development Spotlight: Village at Blackwell Farms, Jasper
Development Info:
The Village at Blackwell Farms, located in Jasper, offers 48 one- and two-bedroom, single-story, garden-style units for seniors aged 55 and older.

AHFA Funding Sources:
$1.29 million in HOME funds (2011) and $712,514 in Housing Credits (2011)

Amenities/Tenant Services:
The Village at Blackwell Farms offers a number of tenant services, including a monthly calendar, a newsletter of important happenings and reminders, as well as regular luncheons and movie/game days.

“I am only required to do 3 luncheons a year, but I do one every month for my residents,” said Property Manager Danie Parsons. “They all know our pot luck is the last Friday of the month. They truly enjoy this and look forward to it. We do different themes each month, and the tenants are wonderful cooks!”

Manager Testimonial:
Parsons said that the development’s smaller size enables her to connect with the residents.

“I like to know my residents,” she said. “I had a pest control technician tell me that he didn’t know any manager that spoke to their residents like I do and call them all by name. I think it’s important to have a good relationship with your residents.”

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic impacts us all. However, managing an affordable housing community of elderly residents presents unique challenges during this time.

“I wouldn’t say that COVID-19 has affected my work, but more so my connection with the tenants and applicants,” said Parsons. “We have had to do some procedural changes as far as wearing masks when a tenant has to come in the office, and only allowing residents to come in if it is absolutely necessary. Practicing social distancing is different, but needed, and we have done our best.”

Throughout the changes, Parsons said the residents of The Village at Blackwell Farms have been understanding and cooperative.

“I think it has impacted them in different ways,” she said. “For the most part, I’ve seen them out and about less often than I used to. A good handful of them like to walk/exercise around the complex, and I haven’t seen many do that. They have been very conscious about staying safe so I feel like they are more understanding of our changes with our policy during this time.”

While group gatherings are on hold in the midst of the pandemic, Parsons strives to keep the residents engaged.

“I’m used to doing monthly activities with my residents and going from that to none at the moment has been challenging,” said Parsons. “I do try to speak to as many as possible if I see them out to just check on them and their health. I’ll make a point to poke my head out of my office door if I see them checking their mail. It is amazing how you can brighten someone’s day just by asking how they are doing. We stay a safe distance away, but I have to try and engage with them as best as I can.”
Staying Home to Save Lives Didn't Slow Down These AHFA Lenders
COVID-19 has changed all of our lives the past few months. Homes have become offices, schools, gyms, barber shops, bakeries – you name it. But AHFA homeownership programs continue to make buying a home more affordable when Alabamians decide they’re ready.

Alabama families are taking advantage of these programs with the help of FirstBank, LoanDepot, and First Federal Bank. They have closed the most loans using AHFA programs since the pandemic started. We're reaching out to lenders at these three companies to hear how they have adjusted since the pandemic has changed the homebuying process. First up are lenders at FirstBank, which has closed the most loans using AHFA programs:
"The home buying process during COVID-19 has changed by causing both the lenders and buyers to embrace the paperless loan process. It has been a great opportunity for me personally to learn more about how to coach buyers who are less computer literate in how to navigate the online process. I have become a more virtual lender and my clients truly appreciate the guidance now more than ever."

"[AHFA's] loan program offers the ability for customers to own a home, which under other circumstances may not be possible. Offering the down payment assistance is just the thing that makes the dream of homeownership a reality. It pleases me to help customers in all financial situations, but it truly is heartwarming to assist those with fewer resources. COVID-19 homebuyers requiring government loans are penalized for lower credit scores, but AHFA still offers great rates for these borrowers. I often ask the customer if they’d be interested in the AHFA FHA, even if they have their own 3.5% down payment. Some do take advantage of it because of the current low rate."

"COVID-19 has really changed our ability to interact with customers. I love sitting down with families at the beginning of the home buying process, especially first time homebuyers, and we have lost that interaction through the pandemic. Being able to sit down with first time homebuyers and explain the process and see their excitement as they embark on the home buying process is why I love this business."

"In my experience I think COVID-19 has changed the way people look at the home they are buying. They see it more as a place that they will spend extended amounts of time with family making memories. They see it as a place that needs to fulfill more than just shelter. It has to be able to be a work space, school, gym, hobby space, and even an outdoor recreational facility. This has made borrowers much more selective about properties and more receptive to all financing options."

"COVID-19 has reminded me how much we need community! The ability to see smiling faces throughout the lending process is why our team focus’s on client service, and AHFA is a huge part of us “Helping Others Get to their Better Place!” AHFA allows a range of buyers to achieve their dream of homeownership and doing so now, allows us to connect with people more than ever before! The ability to adapt with the changing environments and maintain your core purpose is paramount and that’s why we love to partner with Alabama Housing! We love our clients and love being able to "help them get to that better place” and Alabama Housing plays a significant role in this process!"

"The COVID-19 pandemic has added new obstacles to the mortgage process, especially for first-time homebuyers. As always, AHFA programs are a great option in several situations during this time. AHFA interest rates have remained very comparable or better, while providing little to no down payment options. Homeownership is such a vital piece in a family’s financial security. I speak with so many clients that have been working toward their dream of purchasing their first home. It is always an honor to help families take their next steps and receive the peace of mind that comes with having a place to call their own."

"COVID-19 has definitely added a new virtual element to the homebuying process. Our team at FirstBank Mortgage has really tried to rise to the occasion with more contact-free and at-home options for our customers during the loan process. The gratification of helping customers get into their new home is the best part of my job, and AHFA programs help buyers realize their dream of homeownership with down payment assistance. I’m so thankful we’ve been able to adapt our services and still utilize programs like these to help others during this pandemic."

Servicing Customers Encouraged to Use Self-Service Tools
We know access to their mortgage accounts is a top priority to our ServiSolutions customers. We offer many options to help customers make their payments and access their accounts without having to call a customer service representative.

Customers can manage their accounts online via the Customer CareNet (CCN) service available at  http://www.ServSol.com/ . CCN allows customers to make payments, review statements, view basic loan balances, get account notifications, and much more.

Customers are also encouraged to utilize our automated payment drafting and automated phone pay options.
AHFA Offices to Close for July Holiday
The AHFA, ServiSolutions, and Hardest Hit Alabama offices will be closed Friday, July 3 in observance of the Independence Day holiday. We will reopen at 8 a.m. on Monday, July 6.
Alabama Housing Finance Authority | Montgomery, Alabama | 334.244.9200 | Email | Website