The Rural Housing Preservation Academy has wrapped up its fourth academy cohort, which was focused on the Southeast, including Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. The academy, made possible by Fannie Mae and Truist, offers a series of a no-cost, online training and best practices exchanges to help rural housing providers and nonprofits acquire and preserve USDA Rural Development, HUD 811 and 202, Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and other subsidized affordable housing.
Our virtual sessions featured subject matter experts from leading nonprofits and local, state, and federal agencies. The peer learning cohort supplements the sessions, and the academy’s regional focus amplifies best practices and solutions across the states. Watch this video to learn more about the value of technical assistance with our partners.
Fifteen housing organizations, public agencies, and nonprofits participated in this group, with over 200 other representatives who attended our trainings to increase rural preservation in the region. A major concern in rural housing affordability is the risk of losing restriction and rental assistance through USDA Section 515, the largest federal affordable rental housing program for rural communities. The 515 program is crucial in providing affordable housing options in rural communities, with many in areas of persistent poverty where people of color are the majority.
Increasing housing supply, advancing racial equity, and building resilience and upward mobility are key pillars in Enterprise’s five-year strategic plan to make home and community places of pride, power and belonging. Preservation of affordable homes is a major focus of Enterprise’s Tribal Nations & Rural Communities, which has supported safe, decent, and culturally appropriate housing on tribal lands and rural communities for nearly 25 years.
Impact of Technical Assistance and Training Sessions
Enterprise wrapped up the academy with technical assistance during site visits to the Mississippi Delta and rural Georgia, where participants looked at 515 rural development transfer projects for a 50-unit refinance project, a Self-Help project for senior residents, and a resident services project that supports senior citizens and people with disabilities. Funders like Truist, other stakeholders, cohort members, and partners were also invited to these site visits.
“Enterprise’s technical assistance has been key in assisting us with capacity building and one-on-one technical assistance training,” said Carrie Davis, president and CEO of Wealth Watchers. Davis said her organization has been able to secure funding through word of mouth during Enterprises in-person session in Atlanta, where a Georgia Department of Community Affairs representative announced upcoming funding opportunities in the state.
Wealth Watchers, a counseling, and community development organization with a footprint in the Southeast, secured $2.2 million American Rescue Plan funding through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Projects receiving awards include construction and renovation of affordable housing for seniors as well as at-risk and low-income individuals, rental and housing for special needs or disabled residents, and assistance for veterans experiencing homelessness.
Wealth Watchers will use the ARPA funds for the first phase of Woodland Garden Villas in Albany, Georgia, a new-construction development. “A combination of the virtual sessions and the one-on-one technical assistance has built our capacity to develop quality rental units at an affordable price,” said Davis.