The Better Housing Coalition receives $500,000 loan from Mercy Loan Fund and Bon Secours Health System

Oak Summit in historic Blackwell
Oak Summit in historic Blackwell

Thanks to a $500,000 loan and an extended line of credit from Mercy Loan Fund and the Bon Secours Health System, the Better Housing Coalition in Richmond, Virginia, will be able to expand its development of high-quality, affordable workforce housing in the Blackwell neighborhood more rapidly. With this new funding, more than 60 individuals and families at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income ($60,500 for a family of four) will be able to purchase their first homes—and many of them will be the first in their families to do so.

“Mercy Loan Fund is fortunate to have two long-standing community partnerships with Bon Secours Health System and Better Housing Coalition,” said Julie Gould, president of Mercy Loan Fund. “The increased investment from Bon Secours Health System in Mercy Loan Fund and Better Housing Coalition’s strong development capacity will contribute greatly to the need for workforce housing for families and individuals in Richmond. We are so pleased to partner with them and combine resources to help strengthen and revitalize neighborhoods.”

Mercy Loan Fund has made loans to Better Housing Coalition (BHC) since 2002. BHC has traditionally used the funds to develop or renovate historic homes in Richmond’s Church Hill neighborhood to sell to low- to middle-income first-time buyers. BHC expanded its single-family home development to Blackwell as part of a larger development funded, in part, by the Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. To support these efforts, Mercy Loan Fund recently approved a new construction loan product to better meet the needs of BHC. This type of financing is typically very difficult to obtain from a traditional bank.

As far back as 1874, Blackwell was known for its many African-American-owned businesses created by workers and merchants who lived near businesses that employed them. In the 1950s and 1960s, much of Blackwell was developed into public housing, and extreme poverty, crime and drugs overtook the area. In 1997, the Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority (RRHA) identified Blackwell as a HUD HOPE VI Redevelopment Area. The substandard public housing units were demolished and BHC, in partnership with the Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority committed to building a large section of the neighborhood in a manner reminiscent of the intact portions of the neighborhood built in the early twentieth century. Single family homes produced by BHC and others support the overall transformation and stabilization of the community.

“Mercy Housing and Bon Secours Health System join together with the Blackwell community to respond to the need for single-family, affordable housing,” said Ed Gerardo, ‘Bon Secours’ director for community commitment and social investments. “Bon Secours has long recognized the importance of community development to the overall health and well-being of the communities it serves.”

“Mercy Loan Fund’s willingness to adapt its lending tools to suit our real estate development needs will provide a significant boost to our efforts to transform this urban neighborhood,” said David Herring, vice president of the Center for Neighborhood Revitalization at the Better Housing Coalition. “We can move more swiftly from a property acquisition phase to a construction phase to create more high-quality, workforce housing.”

About Mercy Loan Fund
Mercy Loan Fund, a subsidiary of the national affordable housing organization Mercy Housing, provides financing to hundreds of local nonprofit organizations, enabling them to build or preserve affordable housing in their communities. Since 1985, the organization has made 435 loans in 37 states totaling $213 million, resulting in 18,000 affordable homes for nearly 49,900 residents. These loans have leveraged more than $1.5 billion in total development funding.  Mercy Loan Fund is certified by the U.S. Treasury Department as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). Mercy Loan Fund’s purpose is to work nationally with socially responsible affordable housing and community developers, providing innovative financing arrangements for credit-worthy projects for which conventional financing is not available or affordable. For information about Mercy Loan Fund, please visit

About Bon Secours Health System
Bon Secours Health System is a US $3.3 billion not-for-profit Catholic health system that owns, manages or participates in joint ventures in 19 acute care, 5 long-term care, 4 assisted and 7 independent/senior housing facilities, primarily on the East Coast of the United States. It employs more than 21,000 caregivers, helping people in seven states.

About The Better Housing Coalition
Founded in 1987, the Better Housing Coalition, a not-for-profit community development corporation, has been revitalizing the Blackwell neighborhood in Richmond, Va., since 2008. So far it has built 24 of 40 homes designated for low- to moderate-income first-time buyers. All homes are EarthCraft-certified for energy efficiency to curb utility and maintenance expenses, and they have architectural features that maintain the character of the neighborhood. NewHomePhotos