January 2021
AHFA Authorized to Administer Emergency Rental Assistance
On February 12, 2021, Governor Kay Ivey authorized AHFA to implement the State’s new COVID-19 emergency rental assistance program. Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Alabama is funded entirely by a $263 million congressional grant under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (the “Act”). Issuing a declaration of public emergency, AHFA is presently developing a program for processing online applications statewide, by landlords and renters.
 
AHFA’s ERA Alabama program customer service center is up and running, and ready to answer questions. Interested parties may call (833) 620-2434 with questions about the program. AHFA expects to accept applications from landlords and tenants for ERA Alabama beginning March 1 at 8 a.m. Central Time.

Continue to check www.ahfa.com/era for updates.
 
Separate from ERA Alabama, the Act also funds separate rental assistance programs serving residents of Baldwin, Madison, Mobile, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, and Jefferson Counties, and the cities of Huntsville and Birmingham. Renter households in those jurisdictions should apply to those local programs first. AHFA is developing specific information to assist applicants from those jurisdictions on where/how they should apply.

Anticipated Eligibility Requirements
In order to receive financial assistance through ERA, tenants must meet all of the following:
  • Have a valid rental agreement in their name
  • Household’s total gross income cannot exceed 80% Area Median Income for location
  • The household has experienced a loss of income due to COVID-19, for example:
  • Being laid off
  • Place of employment has closed
  • Reduction in hours of work
  • Loss of spousal/child support
  • Inability to find work due to COVID-19
  • Having to stay home with children due to closure of day care/school
  • Unable to participate in previous employment due to the workplace’s high risk of severe illness from COVID-19

Anticipated Documentation
  • Proof of income (pay stubs, bank statements, letter from employer, award letters, pension)
  • Valid lease or other written documentation of landlord-tenant relationship

Coverage of Rent and Utility Costs
ERA Alabama can help renters with the following costs starting as far back as March 13, 2020:
  • Past due, current and up to 3 months of expected rent costs
  • Past due, current or up to 3 months of expected utility and home energy expenses
  • After the initial 3 months of forward assistance, you can apply for 3 additional months of assistance if funds are still available

While applicants may be assisted for up to 15 months, ERA Alabama will not commit funds for prospective (future) rent for more than a 3-month period at a time. Applicants must reapply every 3 months and will only be assisted if funds are still available.
New Option Available for Buyers Combining Step Up with Conventional Financing
There's a new financing option for homebuyers looking for conventional financing in combination with AHFA's Step Up program.
 
Effective February 1, 2021, homebuyers earning above 80% of the Area Median Income but not exceeding the $130,600 maximum qualifying income are now eligible for the Step Up Conventional program!
 
Homebuyers must have a credit score of 680 or higher for this program. All other Step Up eligibility requirements remain the same.
 
This change will allow our Step Up program to help make buying a home more affordable for even more Alabamians! Contact us at homebuyerinquiries@ahfa.com to find out more and for help finding a participating lender in your area.
FY20 Annual Report | 20/20: Clear Vision. Sharp Focus.
We are pleased to announce the release of our FY20 Annual Report.

Trying to sum up this year is a new challenge. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended everyone's state of normal. At this time, we are all still uncertain when this crisis will pass.

Despite the adversity, FY20 saw AHFA continue its commitment to our mission. Our clear vision and sharp focus allowed us to make necessary pivots in the midst of the pandemic to ensure we were serving the affordable housing needs of Alabama families.

Our FY20 Annual Report highlights some of the people we were able to help and the positive impacts we have made in the state. It is in these challenging circumstances that state housing finance authorities show they are uniquely positioned to respond quickly to market conditions, bring together avenues of funding, and develop innovative programs and operations to ensure the affordable housing needs of its citizens are met.

Thank you to our hardworking board members and employees, as well as our many vital partners, for helping us keep our vision and focus on the people we serve.

Click here to check out AHFA's FY20 Annual Report.
Fiscal Year 2021, Through the First Quarter
Multifamily Division:
  • 36 affordable housing developments in the pre-construction phase
  • 21 developments under construction
  • 19 developments pending 8609s (IRS form to obtain housing credit allocation from AHFA)
  • Compliance audits have been completed on 393 of 393 developments, as of December 31, 2020

Single-Family Division:
  • $25.7 million in affordable mortgage financing to 147 Alabama families

ServiSolutions:
  • 80,688 loans being serviced, totaling $5.84 billion
FirstBank Mortgage Named AHFA's Top Participating Lending Company for FY20
AHFA felt it was time to recognize the participating lending institution that closes the most home loans using our homeownership financing options. The winner of the inaugural Top Participating Lending Company award is FirstBank Mortgage!
Updates for Multifamily Competitive Application Cycle
Due to ongoing COVID-19 related business disruptions and delays, the application intake for the 2021 Competitive Application Cycle will be delayed tentatively until April 1.

This extension time should permit prospective applicants additional time due to COVID-19 related staff shortages, and similar delays experienced by their respective development partners and third party vendors.

Please refer to the tentative revised schedule below:

  • 2021 Application Training Materials Release: January 2021
  • 2021 Application Package Release: January 2021
  • List of 2021 Eligible CHDOs Release: January 2021
  • Application Deviation Request Deadline: March 1, 2021
  • Application Log Information Due: March 26, 2021
  • 2021 Competitive Applications Due: April 1, 2021
  • 2021 Award Announcements: TBD
  • 2021 Reservation Package Release: TBD

Please note, this is a tentative schedule and further delays may occur due to COVID-19 related issues.
FY21, 1st Quarter Leading Lenders Announced
Each quarter, AHFA recognizes the top loan officers who are closing the most deals using AHFA homeownership programs: Step Up, Affordable Income Subsidy Grant, and Mortgage Credit Certificates.

Below are the top three Leading Lenders for Fiscal Year 2021, 1st Quarter (in alphabetical order). Congratulations to these lenders! We appreciate them utilizing our programs to make buying a home more affordable for Alabamians.
Development Spotlight: Howell School Senior, Dothan
Howell School Senior Apartments is a 55-unit affordable housing development that serves as home to low-income, senior residents of the Dothan community.

This development, a historic adaptive reuse project by The Banyan Foundation, Inc., received a 2017 funding award of $866,080 in Housing Credits, administered by AHFA. We recently spoke with Bailey Coats, business analyst of The Banyan Foundation, to get a developer’s perspective on such a unique undertaking.

Q: What, in your mind, is special about the development?

A: Unlike the typical development, Howell School Apartments is a rare, adaptive, historic reuse property. Dothan College Grammar School was constructed in 1899 for $15,000 and served as Dothan’s first elementary school. After a 1901 fire, J.W. Baughman rebuilt the school in 1902 for $40,000. Building A, home to 22 of the 55 units, is the original structure of the 1902 Dothan College Grammar School.
 
After Howell School closed in 1942, the Salvation Army’s Red Shield Club used the building during World War II. The building was converted for use as a textile mill in 1947. The school became Dothan Manufacturing Company in 1952 and remained in operation until 1991. Dothan Apparel Company then operated the factory until its closing in 1997. Until October of 2018, Howell School remained dilapidated and vacant.
 
What is so unique about this development is that the main building has served so many different aspects of the Dothan community. First for education, then for hospitalization and care, then industry production, and it now serves the senior community of the Dothan area. To have a structure’s purpose come full circle is an indescribable sensation and further adds to the uniqueness of the project.

Q: What amenities or tenant services are you proud to offer?

A: Howell School Apartments offers a variety of amenities to its residents. Such amenities include a fitness room, internet lounge, laundry room, leasing office, kitchen, and coffee bar. In addition to these items, the historical building includes a large, spacious community room on the main floor of the historic building equipped with dining tables and comfortable seating with a large TV for resident enjoyment.

Q: With this project you have been able to both preserve a local landmark in the Dothan community and create affordable housing. Tell us about the unique challenges presented by renovating a historic building and repurposing it into affordable housing.

A: When creating any development, you run into challenges. Now, multiply that times 10 and that’s the number of challenges you get with an adaptive, historic reuse project.
 
All jokes aside, the most unique challenges of the development came in the form of preserving the historical integrity of the building, despite adverse circumstances. When construction began, Hurricane Michael had several effects upon the project; the roof of the historical building ended up caving in and water damage was a major concern, as well. However, despite these challenges, the collaboration between the development team, the National Historical Commission, and the Alabama Historical Commission to overcome these challenges made the success of this project possible.

Lender Q&A for FY21, 1st Quarter with FirstBank Mortgage
FirstBank Mortgage was our Top Participating Lending Company for the 1st quarter of FY21! In recognizing the lenders at FirstBank who closed loans using our mortgage programs during this time period, we asked them what they think is an important piece of advice for potential homebuyers in a low-inventory market like we’re experiencing now. 

The video below shows you their responses. Thank you, FirstBank lenders! Keep up the good work!
AHFA Welcomes New Lender to Step Up Program
AHFA is pleased to welcome Centennial Bank as a participating lender in the Step Up program.

Centennial Bank is conveniently located in Gulf Shores to serve potential home buyers. For more information, visit https://www.my100bank.com/.
AHFA Offices to Close for February Holiday
AHFA, ServiSolutions, and Hardest Hit Alabama will be closed Monday, February15 in observance of the Presidents' Day holiday. We will reopen at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, February 16.
Manage Your Mortgage Account Online with Customer CareNet
ServiSolutions 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. Plus, CCN is mobile friendly.

If you have not already done so, sign up today!
Alabama Housing Finance Authority | Montgomery, Alabama | 334.244.9200 | Email | Website