Workforce housing loan fund for NH/VT has ties to Maine

Evernorth, a nonprofit with two headquarters in Portland and Burlington, Vermont, said it will oversee a workforce housing loan fund in the Upper Connecticut River Valley, which will includes parts of New Hampshire and Vermont.

Evernorth provides affordable housing and community investment in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. He has raised and deployed over $1 billion in affordable housing equity and built over 15,000 affordable homes and apartments for low- and middle-income people in northern New England.

In this case, the Upper Valley Loan Fund was created from an investment by eight of the region’s employers, who invested $8.95 million to finance the development of affordable housing.

The loan fund’s eight employers include Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, Maine’s third-largest bank, with assets of $3.6 billion and 50 branches in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. It is the only Maine-based bank with a presence in all three northern New England states.

Other investors were Citizens Bank, Dartmouth College, Dartmouth Health, Hanover Co-op Food Stores, Hypertherm, King Arthur Baking and Mascoma Bank, which has an office in Portland.

The Upper Valley Loan Fund is aimed at developers and housing organisations, with the aim of building affordable apartments. Many potential tenants in the area have been shut out of the market.

The loan fund will build or preserve apartments for people who can afford rents of $1,200 to $1,600 per month.

“In comparison, the current market rate for apartments in Grafton and Windsor counties is between $1,500 and $2,200 per month. So you can see that by leveraging those dollars from employers, we we will be able to create significant labor savings compared to what the market is producing,” said Deb Flannery, vice president of lending at Evernorth.

The region has 420 affordable housing units reserved for households whose income is less than 80% of the territory’s median. By adding 243 affordable housing units, the Upper Valley Loan Fund will increase the supply of income-targeted housing by 58%. Sustained production of targeted income housing at this level is necessary to reduce the rental costs of households earning less than 80% of the region’s median income.

“Without workers who have a place to live, the economy as we know it will cease to function effectively,” said Clayton Adams, president and CEO of Mascoma Bank. “I am very grateful to Evernorth for being such a strong partner in this effort. Their expertise will help employers’ capital make a difference in solving the housing crisis in our region.

Evernorth estimates that the funds will be spread over two to three years in two to four transactions per year.

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