Dogwood Health Trust to fund development of affordable housing complex in Marion

Press release from Dogwood Health Trust:

Dogwood Health Trust will contribute $204,000 in grants, $100,000 in pre-development costs and up to $18.85 million in loan guarantees, letters of credit and equity contributions to support a collaborative effort among Housing Assistance Corporation, Gateway Wellness Foundation, McDowell County, McDowell Technical Community College, McDowell Economic Development Association, and the City of Marion to develop workforce housing in Marion, NC. Gateway Wellness Foundation will contribute land for this project that was gifted to them by McDowell County and McDowell Technical Community College, as well as up to an additional $500,000 short-term letter of credit. Housing Assistance Corporation will serve as the primary developer.
With this investment, Dogwood Health Trust kicks off its commitment to preserve and add to the available housing stock in the region.

The new housing complex will be located alongside the campus of McDowell Technical Community College in Marion and will provide 168 units through one, two and three-bedroom options, serving residents at 80 -120% of the average Area Median Income (AMI). The project is expected to generate nearly $20 million in economic activity, while utilizing local vendors, suppliers and trades both during construction and afterwards for ongoing property management.

“Affordable and workforce housing is in extremely short supply in our region, but opportunities for collaboration are not,” said George Renfro, Chair of Dogwood Health Trust’s Impact Investing Committee. “Our goal of catalyzing these and other units by the end of the year will only come to fruition through collaborations like this that build on the strengths, expertise and assets of local and regional partners.” Affordable housing is one of Dogwood’s four strategic priority areas that will drive Dogwood’s work for the next ten years. Dogwood’s priority areas include Housing, Education, Jobs, and Health & Wellness. When fully implemented, each strategic initiative will invest $5 to $15 million per year into the region.

According to the NC Housing Coalition, housing is considered affordable when it comprises no more than 30% of the family’s budget. When a family spends more than this on housing, they are cost-burdened. In a 2019 report, 21% of McDowell County households are cost-burdened. The partners of this project all share a commitment to addressing the disadvantages created by a lack of affordable housing. They note that a project like this will help both employees and employers who are at a disadvantage in recruitment and relocation efforts by boosting the available stock of workforce housing.

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