November 2019 – Enterprise Community Loan Fund (ECLF) is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit loan funds with more than $350 million of assets under management. Through private and public-sector partnerships, ECLF creates financial products that meet the credit needs of underserved communities. It offers these products along with technical assistance to help mission-aligned organizations develop and preserve quality affordable housing and revitalize communities by providing access to good jobs, schools, transportation, and healthy living environments.
Since 1990, ECLF has invested more than $1.9 billion in communities across the country, including financing for more than 114,000 new or rehabilitated affordable homes. The organization connects those homes to community assets in order to expand resident opportunity and has helped create over 16,000 educational seats and facilitated approximately 600,000 health care visit annually. ECLF is part of Enterprise Community Partners, a national nonprofit that has invested $43.6 billion to strengthen communities and affordable housing opportunities.
ECLF serves communities through a diverse, broad portfolio of lending products for acquisition, construction, working capital, bridge, pre-development, mini-permanent, and permanent financing. Loans are typically used for multifamily rental, mixed-used developments and community facilities. ECLF raises funds to support its community lending activities through bond and note issuances, loans from banks and insurance companies, and the public sector.
The organization became an FHLBank Atlanta shareholder in 2015 to diversify its funding mix and gain access to a reliable source of long-term financing and other financial products offered by the Bank.
According to Charlotte Crow, senior vice president and treasurer for ECLF, the organization wanted to expand access to lending capital with terms greater than 10 years to address challenges in providing financing to borrowers that were seeking long-term loans.
“Before joining FHLBank Atlanta, ECLF would typically need to structure loans with longer terms to reprice every five years, which created risk for the developer/borrower who was already working on a project with thin margins,” said Crow. “Having access to FHLBank Atlanta funding with terms of up to 20 years reduces the uncertainty around funding costs for both the borrower and Enterprise.”
Crow notes that membership also provided ECLF access to FHLBank Atlanta’s Affordable Housing Program (AHP), which helps support ECLF’s developer partners and further diversifies the organization’s investor and lender mix.
“Our ability to sponsor AHP applications helps us attract new borrowers and enhances relationships with existing borrowers,” said Crow. “Furthermore, we have many partners in areas where a variety of factors such as availability of public subsidy or the high cost of development creates funding gaps, and the AHP is an important resource for addressing these gaps.
“All of this is to say that membership with FHLBank Atlanta has helped us reach new developers and expand our impact in communities,” continued Crow.
ECLF primarily relies on FHLBank Atlanta advances to secure the long-term funding needed to meet the borrowing needs of its partners. Crow notes that advances provide an advantage over other funding sources not only for the maturities available but also because of the lower cost and the ability of the Bank to structure an advance to match the cash flows of the loan it is supporting. This flexibility helps ECLF mitigate risk on its balance sheet. The organization has borrowed standard Fixed Rate Credit advances as well as advances through the Community Investment Program (CIP) that are fixed-rate and principal reducing.
Crow says that CIP advances have been helpful in funding affordable housing projects that needed a lower interest rate or longer term than what traditional loan capital would support. For example, ECLF borrowed a fully amortizing CIP advance to fund loans totaling $6.9 million for the Highland Palms and 10th Avenue Eastlake apartments, two preservation projects totaling 58 units in the Bay Area, one of Enterprise’s core geographic areas.
“The CIP advance enabled us to obtain a very low rate for high impact projects in a high cost area,” said Crow.
While advances and AHP provide support to ECLF’s mission, Crow also points to the creativity and relationships with the Bank’s staff, and the staff’s commitment to providing resources to ECLF, as that adds to the value of membership with FHLBank Atlanta.
“We may be smaller than some other members, but we feel like we are treated the same as the largest members,” said Crow. “When we have questions about collateral or other products, our relationship manager has ensured the appropriate resources are available to work through our questions and educate us on how we can make full use of the Bank’s products.”
Project Spotlight: Capitol View Apartments
Location: Capitol View Apartments is located in Atlanta, Georgia where ECLF provided a $5 million acquisition loan.
When completed, the revitalized Capitol View Apartments will provide 120 units of affordable housing near the Atlanta Beltline.
Mission-oriented, Atlanta-based developer Columbia Residential recognizes the role that affordable housing preservation plays in combating housing insecurity. The company used ECLF’s $5 million loan to acquire a property in the Capitol View neighborhood of Atlanta, an area which is experiencing rising housing costs and displacement due, in part, to the redevelopment of the Atlanta Beltline into a public park/trail and the resulting gentrification. The property will preserve and improve a 120-unit multifamily complex with rents set at levels affordable to households earning 40 percent to 70 percent of area median income; 24 of those units will be reserved for formerly homeless individuals who will be provided with onsite supportive services.
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