Collaboration Builds Lasting Business Relationships

Richmond pictureMercy Loan Fund understands the importance of building strong relationships with its borrowers as they strive to meet our nation’s housing challenges.  Many of these relationships have resulted in collaboration of multiple developments.  In the past 10 years, Mercy Loan Fund has provided multiple loans to thirty percent of its borrowers.  Mercy Loan Fund has built strong relationships with many of these affordable housing developers, including Better Housing Coalition and National Church Residences.

In 2002, Bon Secours Health System, one of Mercy Housing’s Strategic Health Care Partners, approached Mercy Loan Fund about providing a loan to the Better Housing Coalition (BHC), in Richmond, Virginia.  As owner of a hospital in the Church Hill North neighborhood, Bon Secours was seeking to fulfill its mission to bring people and communities to health and wholeness and was committed to the revitalization of housing and retail establishments.  Thus began the relationship between Mercy Loan Fund and BHC.

BHC is a non-profit organization that develops and rehabilitates affordable housing properties for homeownership and rental opportunities in Richmond.  They also work to provide social services to the residents, including youth services, financial education, vocational training and a variety of health services for seniors.

In the past 12 years, Mercy Loan Fund has provided over $1.3 million of financing to BHC, which has led to the development of thirty-seven single family homes for low-income families in Richmond.  Through a partnership with the Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority, BHC has been able to use these funds towards revitalizing the Blackwell and Church Hill neighborhoods of Richmond.

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

These homes have helped to improve the quality of life for so many, including Terry Jones and his family who recently moved into a new four bedroom house developed by BHC.  Mr. Jones is a Gulf War veteran of the Marines and now works for the City of Richmond as a Gas & Water Technician.  He initially contacted BHC over a year ago and has since been working to improve his credit score to be able to purchase a home.  In April 2014, Mr. Jones moved into his first new home with his wife and daughter, which will not cost much more than the small apartment they were living in before.  They are most excited about having a yard for their daughter to play in.  Mr. Jones did not think he would ever be able to own a new home, but BHC was able to make that a reality.

“We recognize the importance of affordable, quality housing in impacting the health of populations across all communities,” said Rich Statuto, chief executive officer for Bon Secours Health System.  “With Mercy Loan Fund we have a valuable and responsive partner in addressing the housing conditions of our neighborhoods.”

Mercy Loan Fund has established a strong relationship over the past several years with another borrower, National Church Residences.  National Church Residences is a not-for-profit organization that supports the housing needs of low- and moderate-income seniors, families and adults, the homeless, persons with disabilities, and a host of supportive health care services.  With a total of 330 communities in 28 states and Puerto Rico, National Church Residences operates five continuing care retirement communities and is the nation’s largest not-for-profit developer and manager of affordable senior housing.

Having provided two loans to National Church Residences, Mercy Loan Fund was recently approached by them for a new loan to help finance a residential care facility.  Mercy Loan Fund was excited to be a part of this project that aligns with its strategic goal of building healthy communities.

The property, Chimes Terrace in Johnstown, Ohio, is a rental property consisting of 60 units of affordable housing for the elderly. National Church Residences has preserved the property as affordable housing for the elderly and is creating opportunities for the residents to age in place.  In pursuit of NCR’s preservation objectives, they applied for and were awarded an Assisted Living Conversion Program (ALCP) grant for the rehabilitation and conversion of 24 of the property’s units to Assisted Living. These 24 units will be licensed as a residential care facility and National Church Residences will rehabilitate the remaining 36 units using Low Income Housing Tax Credits.  This is the first ALCP grant to be combined with LIHTC in the country.  At the time National Church Residences applied for the ALCP grant, the requested amount would have covered all the costs. Due to an increase in construction costs, there was a gap in the total costs. Mercy Loan Fund’s loan covers that gap.

Assisted Living facilities cater to residents who need assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) on a frequent basis, but do not have a high enough level of infirmity to warrant residence at a nursing facility. As the residents at Chimes Terrace age, their independence decreases and their need for supportive services increase. The once independent elderly residents now need assistance with several ADLs.

“It is partners like Mercy Loan Fund that help us achieve our mission to provide quality housing and care at affordable prices in communities of caring persons,” said Mark Ricketts, senior vice president and chief operating officer of National Church Residences.

Mercy Loan Fund values the relationships it has built with BHC, National Church Residences and all of its borrowers over the years, and looks forward to collaborating on more developments in the future.