July 2021
Emergency Rental Assistance Alabama Update: Imminent Eviction Prevention Initiative
In June, AHFA initiated a collaborative venture with Legal Services Alabama (LSA) called the Imminent Eviction Prevention Initiative. ERA Alabama works with LSA lawyers to expedite cases for renter households who have submitted a rental assistance application online with ERAAlabama.com, have been served a formal eviction notice or court case filing, and are eligible to remain in their existing households based on the landlord’s separate ERA Alabama application and agreement.

LSA serves low-income people by providing civil legal aid and by promoting collaboration to find solutions to problems of poverty. They have eight offices around the state that service all 67counties in Alabama.
A pilot program for the initiative started in Tuscaloosa with three lawyers. One of those lawyers, Willie Mae Jones, served as liaison to keep referrals simple and to monitor the files sent to ERA Alabama. Jones says, “When AHFA contacted me, we knew we had to find a means to get the landlords paid and stop these evictions. AHFA’s idea was to expedite those files in which eviction was most imminent (files pending in court). Many of these clients were just a Writ away from homelessness. The program was just what we needed, and there are many more Alabamians still in need.”
Today, twenty lawyers from all eight LSA offices in the state participate in the program. As of July 30, the program has helped 81 Alabama families. Another 25 cases are pending.
Jones says, “I am excited about the Imminent Eviction Prevention Initiative because it is our best option to help our clients avoid homelessness. It is a win-win for tenants and landlords, and I just hope more landlords will participate in the program so they can get reimbursed while helping Alabama families keep their housing.”

The Imminent Eviction Prevention Initiative is open to other attorneys whose clients may be interested in participating. For more information, click here to see our flyer.
Hendrix Named 2021 Manager of the Year
Rene’ Hendrix of Emerald Valley in Evergreen is AHFA's 2021 Manager of the Year. Hendrix received her award, surrounded by family and residents, on July 15 during a surprise presentation at the Emerald Valley development.
The Manager of the Year award recognizes outstanding management staff at AHFA-funded multifamily housing developments. Nominees are evaluated on tenant relations, management experience, and education as well as the complex's curb appeal and AHFA program compliance.

We will feature winner Rene’ Hendrix in an upcoming Success Story. Other nominees were:
  • Stephanie Bentley, Hallmark Crestmoor in Hartselle
  • Edra Gray, Lodges on Lincoln in Selma
  • Lori Posey, Villas at Cloverdale in Cullman
  • Paige Smith, High Forest I & II in Jasper
  • Christy Stuckey, The Plaza at Centennial Hill in Montgomery
Congratulations to Hendrix and all of this year’s nominees! Thank you for your hard work and dedication!
FY21, 3rd Quarter Top Participating Lending Company Announced
FirstBank Mortgage is our Top Participating Lending Company for the 3rd quarter of FY21! FirstBank is the participating lending institution that closed the most home loans this quarter using our homeownership financing options.

To recognize the lenders at FirstBank who closed loans using our mortgage programs during this time period, we asked them to provide tips for homebuyers who want to put together a competitive offer on a home. Here is what some of them shared:
With the market being so competitive right now, I would suggest using a Realtor to help guide you, first and foremost. Know what you can afford BEFORE you begin the negotiation process, and know your limits, including the max you are able to spend. Trusting your Realtor and your mortgage lender as a team are CRUCIAL to the success of your offer. And AHFA allows more people to qualify for homes! Many people continue to rent because they think they can’t buy a house, but with low-to-no down payment programs available, such as Step Up, it could very well be possible to start the dream of homeownership today!” 

When making an offer to purchase a home, especially in today’s market, you want to be fully pre-approved by a reputable lender. That means that not only do you fill out an application, but you also provide all the supporting documents that back up the information you gave the lender. Also, the beauty of using AHFA’s Step Up Program is that you can borrow your down payment up to $7,500. Your savings can then be used for the closing costs, pre-paid items, and escrowed items. Yes, your loan will be underwritten twice, once by our company’s underwriters and a second time by the underwriters at AHFA, but they are fast! They want to see you in your home on the date the purchase contract has stated. So we work together as a team to make your dream come true. Nothing makes me happier than helping people who never thought they could buy a home actually have this wonderful loan product that gives them a boost and gets them into a home they can call their own!” 

To make the most competitive offer possible, rely on the Realtor's knowledge of that market and specifically the surrounding homes. Make your best offer right away. This may get you an accepted offer instead of a chance to compete with more offers. You may have the winning offer since everyone else was holding back for a second round of offers.” 

In the application process, it is extremely important to be very candid with your lender regarding your financing needs. Your lender should consider your needs when helping you decide which program will best meet those needs. In order to make the most competitive offer, you and your lender should put together a plan to make the offer not only competitive but also one the seller is compelled to accept. Your lender is your partner and guide to the process. Mutual trust is a huge component to making the transaction as smooth as possible.” 

FY21, 3rd Quarter Leading Lenders
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.

The top three Leading Lenders for Fiscal Year 2021, 3rd Quarter are, in alphabetical order:

Congratulations to these lenders! We appreciate them utilizing our programs to make buying a home more affordable for Alabamians.
Success Story: Brenda Montgomery, Tuscaloosa
Lifelong renter Brenda Montgomery had become increasingly dissatisfied with apartment living.

“I had a two-bedroom apartment,” she said. “The music was always loud. You could step out your door and smell marijuana. It really wasn’t where I wanted to be.”

Then, Montgomery received the phone call that her application with Habitat Tuscaloosa was approved. “I screamed when they told me I had been approved,” she said.

Partner families with Habitat for Humanity must fulfill "sweat equity" hours of volunteer work, both on construction sites for their new home and other partner families' homes, working at ReStores, and participating in required workshops and educational classes. One-adult households, like Montgomery's, must complete 250 hours of sweat equity.

Montgomery pitched in, learning how to help with painting, blue exterior wrap, wood, and window installation. It was going great, until the pandemic happened. “We were supposed to come back on a Monday. Then they shut everything down,” she said.

Ellen Potts, executive director of Habitat Tuscaloosa, said, “Ms. Montgomery’s house was started in late January 2020 and was about a third of the way done when we shut down on March 17, 2020. We opened back up to volunteers in late May, but only to those volunteers who come every week, not to general volunteer groups. Also, volunteers and staff stayed masked and distant, even outside. We suspended homeowner sweat equity requirements during that time. We finally completed Ms. Montgomery’s house in August 2020, since work was slowed greatly with the decreased number of volunteers.”

Despite the COVID protocols and delays, Montgomery stayed as involved as possible in her home build and remained upbeat about progress. “I would stop by with my mask on just to check on everybody,” she said. “We can’t rush God. I really do believe that when it was time, it was time. It wasn’t my season then.”

Working with Habitat for Humanity, AHFA purchases mortgage loans, like Montgomery's, from the local affiliates. This process allows the affiliates to receive the loan amount up front in a lump sum while AHFA receives the monthly payments for the life of the loan. The affiliate then uses the up-front funds to build more housing for low-income families. 

Nearly a year since receiving the keys to her home, Montgomery is still excited to finally be a homeowner. “It’s like people look at you differently when you tell them that you own a house,” she said. “I appreciate everything. I enjoy getting out and walking around my house. It’s not just one thing. I love everything. I just love it. I really do. I am in love.”

Montgomery’s house is located in Habitat Tuscaloosa’s West End development, a neighborhood Montgomery preferred for its proximity to her elderly mother she cares for. Potts said, “Our new initiative is called ‘Operation Transformation.’ On July 1, we purchased 40 lots in Tuscaloosa’s economically depressed West End neighborhood. Twenty-six of the lots are contiguous and the others are ‘in-fill’ lots within an older neighborhood.”

All of the lots are located within a half mile of the Tuscaloosa Career and Technology Academy (TCTA), which is the high school construction trade school for both the Tuscaloosa City and County School Systems. Habitat Tuscaloosa plans to use these houses over the next 3-5 years to train TCTA students studying electrical, plumbing, and carpentry trades. In addition, Habitat Tuscaloosa plans to partner with the Dannon Project, a non-profit organization based in Birmingham that works with young, non-violent offenders coming out of the criminal justice system.

“For their participants who have both interest and aptitude for construction, they will work on these 40 Habitat Tuscaloosa build sites to learn all the things we normally do with volunteers — framing, roofing, window installation, flooring, cabinet installation, sheetrock, etc.," said Potts. “Our goal is to positively impact as many people as possible — homeowners, high school students, and at-risk young people — while still staying “in our lane” of building and repairing homes.”
AHFA Accepting Comments on 2022 Multifamily Allocation Plans
AHFA conducted a public hearing on July 28 concerning proposed 2022 multifamily program plans: the HOME Investment Partnerships Program Action Plan, the Housing Credit Qualified Allocation Plan, and the National Housing Trust Fund Allocation Plan.

AHFA continues to accept written comments until 5 p.m. on August 27. All written comments must be submitted using the AHFA 2022 Plan Comment form available at http://bit.ly/2i82idW.
Student Spotlight: Yasmin Nearor, Wynnchase, East Brewton
Meet Yasmin Nearor of East Brewton:
Yasmin Nearor was selected to receive a 2020 resident scholarship award from the Alabama Affordable Housing Association (AAHA).

Nearor is a 2019 graduate of W.S. Neal High School currently attending the University of Montevallo. She is now in her second year of college, pursing a bachelor’s degree in theater with minor studies in business. “I’m a first generation college student,” wrote Nearor in her scholarship application. “It’s definitely a challenge venturing into the unknown.”

Career Goals:
“Ultimately, I plan to create my own film studio and produce major entertainment in the film industry,” she said.

Impact of Scholarship:
“I live in a low-income household,” said Nearor. “My father is not active in my life. I need financial help to pursue my dream of getting a higher education and making a difference in the world today. Despite my situation, I’m inspired by my mother who would do anything to ensure my attendance in college. The AAHA scholarship would be eliminating my financial worries, which would allow me to focus on my education and path to success.”

Living in Affordable Housing:
“All my life I have been the dependent of a single mother, who was just trying to shelter, clothe, and feed her children. I don’t know what it’s like to support four children, but I imagine it’s a tremendous job to fill on one’s own,” said Nearor. “I know from my experiences that affordable housing has been a marvelous aid to my family. In addition, affordable housing also gave me the opportunity to stay young instead of growing up too fast and getting a job while juggling school. Alternatively, I was able to get involved in my school and community.”

In 2000, the Alabama Affordable Housing Association (AAHA) created an education 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 $750,000 in college and vocational scholarships.

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 Hold Public Hearing on Mortgage Assistance Alabama Plan
AHFA will conduct a public hearing concerning the proposed plan for the Mortgage Assistance Alabama Program.

MAA is a foreclosure prevention program designed to assist financially distressed homeowners affected by COVID-19 since January 21, 2020. Funding for this program is provided by the U.S. Department of Treasury under the Homeowner Assistance Fund established by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

The public hearing will be held on Thursday, August 12, 2021, at 10:00 a.m., Central Daylight Time, at the Hampton Inn & Suites - EastChase located at 7651 EastChase Parkway, Montgomery, Alabama, 36117. All attendees must comply with COVID-19 protection measures in accordance with state, local, and venue requirements. 

Attendees who wish to speak must register to do so upon arrival at the venue.

For more information, visit https://bit.ly/36VERjp.
Alabama Housing Finance Authority | Montgomery, Alabama | 334.244.9200 | Email | Website