Memphis Affordable Housing Trust Fund
Through the advocacy efforts of the BLDG Memphis Affordable Housing Policy Work Group, the City of Memphis established the Memphis Affordable Housing Trust Fund (MAHTF) in 2019. In June 2021, City Council will once again vote on funding the Memphis Affordable Housing Trust Fund. In Memphis, there is a deficit of over 30,000 quality affordable housing units; however, there is not enough federal or state dollars to address the need. The Memphis Affordable Housing Trust Fund (MAHTF) fills that gap. MAHTF is a tool that allows non-profit developers to build quality affordable homes in communities that have been historically devalued and disinvested. Investing in the housing trust fund reduces blight, increases property values, promotes local home ownership, creates jobs, and builds up neighborhoods. We urge our Memphis City Council to fund the Memphis Affordable Housing Trust Fund annually and permanently at a minimum of 2/3rd of a penny of the City’s debt service beginning in FY2022.
What is the MAHTF and How Does It Work?
The MAHTF was established in 2019 by City of Memphis Government to address the affordable housing needs of households that earn up to 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) - with the primary goals of increasing affordable housing, improving neighborhoods, and building nonprofit developer capacity. Memphis Division of Housing and Community Development (HCD) administers the fund, which is housed at the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis. The fund was initially capitalized by an FY20 allocation of City funds totaling approximately $1,000,000 and is available for tax-deductible contributions from philanthropy and other government agencies. Mayor Jim Strickland has appointed an Advisory Board to advise HCD on setting annual priorities. Learn more about the fund here.
In December 2019, Memphis HCD announced the first round of funding awards through the MAHTF. The awards to eight agencies totaled $913,600 for 82 single family housing units for rent and sale. The awards were made in two categories - owner-occupied repair ($535,000 for 63 units) and vacant single family rehab ($378,600 for 19 units). Those awards leveraged $968,130 in additional funding secured by the grantees. View the full FY20 grantees and project summaries here.
Read the full Affordable Housing 2020 report here.
Why is the MAHTF Important?
For Memphians earning below 80% of the AMI, there is a severe shortage of truly affordable housing available, with demand exceeding the supply by tens of thousands of units. Maintaining the condition and quality of homes is often difficulty for both owner-occupants and the owners of rental property. In the wake of the 2008 foreclosure crisis and following recession, out of town investors surged into the Memphis real estate market and are associated with Memphis' loss in overall homeownership (down to 44%) and particularly black homeownership (under 35%). One in five Memphis renters faces eviction at least once in any given year.
By providing a flexible, local funding stream to CDCs and other affordable housing developers, the MAHTF increases the supply of quality affordable housing units that keep people safe, keep energy costs low, and provides accessibility for people of all ages and abilities. Affordability is typically defined as housing units in which total housing costs (rent/mortgage, insurance, taxes, and utilities) are no greater than 30 percent of a household’s income. A household paying over that amount is considered cost-burdened and experiences challenges of balancing their monthly incomes. The MAHTF also supports other community goals, including:
- providing more resources for community-based organizations to revitalize their neighborhoods with stronger housing units;
- growing the capacity of community developers to preserve, rehab, and build affordable housing that replaces blighted, unsafe, and substandard housing;
- reducing the housing shortages that contribute to individuals and families experiencing homelessness;
- expanding quality housing options for families striving to find stability;
- increasing support for homeowners to maintain value in their homes, particularly in areas affected by redlining and other discriminatory practices over the years.
How Does the MAHTF Compare to Other Housing Trust Funds?
Follow the links below to learn more about what a few other cities have in place to invest in quality, affordable housing.