Apply for the Workforce Housing Grant to Make an Impact in Your Community

The Northwest Credit Union Foundation encourages credit unions to create products and services to tackle housing barriers.

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2/12/2019

Credit unions across the Northwest are uniquely positioned to make real impacts on workforce housing challenges facing the region. Many credit unions are already taking active steps to help their members and community by offering innovative solutions that make homeownership or renting a reality.

To assist credit unions in continuing this important work, the Northwest Credit Union Foundation opened a workforce housing grant opportunity. All Northwest Credit Union Association members are eligible to apply to the RFP up until the deadline of March 8. Grant awards of up to $100,000 will be given to support the implementation of project plans that provide innovative, replicable, and/or scalable solutions to workforce housing. The Foundation will serve as a hub for incubating credit unions’ effective solutions through this grant opportunity.

The Foundation defines workforce housing (home ownership and renting) as housing that is affordable and close to an individual’s place of work. It includes households earning 60 to 140 percent of the area median income. Housing costs should be no more than 30 percent of household income according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The grant’s long-term goal is to increase affordability and access to workforce housing in the region. Each project plan should be comprehensive and designed to address the unique challenges faced within a community. The applicant’s proposal should fit a community’s needs, include an outreach strategy, be ready to execute by the time of the grant award in May, and contain a three-year implementation plan.

The RFP is flexible, accommodating a variety of possible credit union proposals and Foundation support (loan loss reserve, matching grants, etc). Examples of how credit unions can impact the workforce housing market include:

  • Financing alternative housing types: Credit unions could create opportunities for their members to access financing for accessory dwelling units (backyard cottages, detached garage apartments, mother-in-law suites, etc), tiny homes, and prefabricated homes in communities that do not have restrictive ordinances for alternative housing options.
  • Financing local landlord 1-4 projects: Credit unions could provide conventional financing options for individuals or small businesses looking to construct duplexes, triplexes, or quadplexes instead of commercial lending to developers.
  • Creative and/or population-specific down payment assistance: Credit unions could work with community partners to leverage grants or other assistance to subsidize down payments for targeted demographics or first-time home buyers.
  • Multi-family or mixed-income development financing: Credit unions could provide commercial lending to developers targeting workforce housing units or collaborate with local municipalities and nonprofit stakeholders to create land trusts for larger developments.
  • Rural rehabilitation financing or loan fund: Credit unions serving rural areas could create a loan fund or financing to rehabilitate or renovate older housing units. They could also identify foreclosed houses as an opportunity for renovation to add more units back into the market.
  • Private market rental security deposit loans: Credit unions could provide low-interest loans over the course of a rental lease to decrease barriers of access to an inflated housing market with steep security deposit fees.

Credit unions interested in learning more about the RFP are encouraged to get in touch with Claire Hendrix, NWCUF Program Director. The Foundation is here to assist credit unions with any questions and walk them through the grant application process.