CDFIs and Affordable Housing

About the Author

CED Program Interns & Students

charCDFIThis post is part of our series on North Carolina CDFIs. CDFIs are financial institutions that expand access to capital in low-wealth and underserved communities in order to foster economic development and revitalization. See previous posts in the series: an overview of the role of CDFIs in North Carolina, and a profile of the Natural Capital Investment Fund.

Overview

Like many CDFIs, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership focuses exclusively on investing in housing affordability. Founded in 1988, CMHP grew out of the work of a city-wide Housing Task Force that was searching for a new public-private model to address the city’s housing challenges more creatively, flexibly, and collaboratively than the Charlotte Housing Authority. One key to the new model was the ability to leverage private investment in a climate of dwindling public funding for affordable housing. Part of this collaborative approach has meant working closely with public partners to target specific neighborhoods for strategic investment. Today, CMHP describes its approach as three-pronged:

  • Revitalization – CMHP purchases and revitalizes homes in distressed neighborhoods as part of strategic neighborhood transformation efforts; homes are both rented and sold, both at affordable rates and/or to renters and buyers below specific income thresholds
  • Education – CMHP offers financial education and credit counseling to mortgage borrowers, a key strategy through which housing-focused CDFIs reduce the risk of their investments; CMHP is a HUD-approved housing counseling agency
  • Development – CMHP has developed both a single-family subdivision as well as infill homes and apartments throughout Charlotte

CMHP’s capital comes from a variety of sources, including the City of Charlotte/Mecklenburg County and Community Housing Capital, a national CDFI that lends to organizations in the NeighborWorks network (NeighborWorks is a national non-profit technical assistance and advocacy organization that supports local affordable housing organizations). In the 26 years since its founding, the CMHP has sold over 2000 homes to new homeowners and currently rents an additional 2000 affordable units.

Sample Investments

Genesis Park – Genesis Park was CMHP’s first targeted neighborhood investment. Starting in the early 1990s, when Genesis Park was “known throughout the Carolinas as an open drug market,” CMHP began purchasing houses in the neighborhood, eventually purchasing 93 homes or about half the neighborhood’s housing stock. Combined with strategies like community policing, CMHP’s investment turned the neighborhood around – in 1997, the National Institute of Justice described Genesis Park as “a community that battled crime and won.”

Statesville Avenue Corridor – in 2001, CMHP worked closely with the City of Charlotte to draft the Greater Statesville Avenue Corridor Plan, and since then has invested in a variety of projects along the corridor. One current area of investment is the 98-acre Brightwalk area, a 1000-unit mixed income neighborhood that will feature neighborhood amenities like an environmental art installation. Partly to support its work revitalizing the Brightwalk area, CMHP recently acquired the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Development Corp., which will enable CMHP to make investments in commercial properties – another tool to bolster the economic health of the neighborhoods in which it invests in housing.

Stay tuned for additional profiles of CDFIs working in North Carolina.

Julianne Stern is a graduate student in the Master of City and Regional Planning program and the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is also a Fellow with the SOG Development Finance Initiative.

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