February 2021
AHFA Welcomes New Board Members
AHFA welcomed two new members to its Board of Directors this month.

Annie Furrer is a lender with Citizens Bank & Trust in Guntersville. She succeeds former board member Jennifer Autrey, whose term recently expired.

Adam Harris is a real estate agent with Southeastern Realty in Lineville. He succeeds Peter Weiss, who passed away in 2019.
Emergency Rental Assistance Alabama Accepts Applications Beginning March 1
Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Alabama is now taking applications. Landlord and tenants can apply at www.eraalabama.com. Call Center staff are available at 833-620-2434 to answer questions and help with applications if necessary. 

ERA Alabama can help renters with past due, current and up to 3 months of expected rent and utility and home energy expenses. Find out more at www.eraalabama.com.

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”).

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. Residents in those local areas with separate programs must apply there, not with ERA Alabama. However, if the local program in your area is not yet operating, ERA Alabama might accept your application. Call 833-620-2434 for details.
Lender Spotlight: Joel Gardner, Renasant Bank, Birmingham
Joel Gardner began his career in the accounting field, but says, “I always enjoyed working with numbers, but wanted to work in a capacity where I could have more day-to-day interaction with people.” After entering the mortgage industry as a processor, he worked his way up to a loan officer assistant and is now a senior loan officer and assistant vice president at Renasant Bank where he has worked for nearly 8 years. In 2017, 2019, and 2020, he was the bank’s top CRA lender. Last year, he helped 204 families obtain their mortgage, bringing in more than $37.7 million in mortgage loans to the bank. 

Q: How did you hear about AHFA’s homebuyer financing programs?
A: Part of being a good community banker requires me to know about down payment grants and resources so that I can best help my customers who trust me to help guide them to the closing table with minimum resources. I work heavily in a market that requires down payment assistance. AHFA’s products have been a staple in my lending portfolio for quite some time. The loan itself has changed throughout the years, but it has always been a go-to for families looking to obtain homeownership within an affordable budget. 

Q: What do you think is the greatest benefit of Step Up for homebuyers?
A: I always compare mortgage loans to a carpenter’s tools. Depending on your personal situation, one loan might be better for your financing than another. The loan you choose should complement your upfront and long-term needs. The Step Up loan allows us to meet the financing goals of customers who look to obtain homeownership at a minimum upfront cost, while allowing more affordability in a home purchase than he or she might realize when renting.

Also, in today’s housing market, it takes a very competitive bid to actually “win” a completed sales contract. Sometimes to get an offer, a seller might not want to pay as much closing costs as they normally would, which leaves a buyer’s upfront cash stretched. I’ve been able to utilize Step Up for customers who might not have a lot upfront and between down payment, closing costs, and moving, they need to save their funds. This product really helps in those situations. 

Q: What is the best advice you can give to first-time homebuyers?
A: Talk with a banker 3-4 months prior to the date you wish to purchase. You can use this time to plan for any debt you might have to pay off, credit you might have to repair, or to better financially define what your mortgage might look like. 

Q: What do you enjoy most/find most rewarding about your job? 
A: I love the problem solving. I enjoy assisting my community obtain the benefits of homeownership when historically, it might not have always been available. Finding solutions or putting strategies together to help people achieve their short- and long-term goals and watching them execute and win is amazing. If I can assist anyone with their Step Up loan, they can find me at https://linktr.ee/JoelDGardner
AHFA Celebrates 30 Years of HOME in 2021
In February, AHFA celebrated 30 years of administering the HOME Investment Partnerships Program in Alabama.

Thank you to all of our partners who have helped make the HOME Program successful in Alabama. We look forward to continuing to provide quality affordable housing to Alabama citizens through the HOME Program.

Please watch the short video below to learn more about HOME in Alabama.
2021 Manager of the Year Nominations Due April 30
Give your top managers the recognition they deserve by nominating them for AHFA's annual Manager of the Year award. Site and property managers for any development financed with AHFA-administered HOME funds or Housing Credits are eligible.

Nominations are due by April 30. Click here for a nomination package:
AAHA Accepting Applications for 2021 Resident Scholarships
The Alabama Affordable Housing Association is accepting applications for its annual resident scholarship awards.

Applicants must be accepted or enrolled in an accredited vocational or technical school, college, or university; have at least a "B" average or 3.0 GPA; and meet all other application criteria.

Scholarship awards will be made to qualified tenants and resident family members living at an AAHA-member apartment complex and property/divisional management staff of AAHA-member companies and their children. Applications must be received by March 10.

For more information, visit www.theaaha.org.
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Alabama Housing Finance Authority | Montgomery, Alabama | 334.244.9200 | Email | Website