At the end of 2019, the GHACF formed the Impact Investment Committee to explore a different option for investments. Impact investments will complement the foundation’s current investment policy, programs, and grant-making activities and establish a process for the expanded investment and development of resources in the community.
In February 2020, mere weeks before the pandemic struck, the GHACF board approved a $1.5 million investment with Michigan Community Capital (MCC) to develop workforce housing in Northwest Ottawa County. This investment aligned a portion of the foundation’s assets with the GHACF’s mission and goals, providing social benefits to our community by investing in Main Street, not just Wall Street.
“This partnership with MCC is the next step in the journey that began with Housing Next, an initiative we cofounded in 2017 focused on supporting housing solutions for all income levels in our community,” said Hadley Streng, President of the GHACF. “Solving the workforce housing crisis takes innovative thinking, and we believe this investment, together with collaborating with other organizations throughout Ottawa County, will help get us there.”
“This investment is a key piece of the puzzle to help reduce the cost of housing in the area. With this reduced cost of capital, MCC can provide housing at a price-point not being built by the private sector. Homes priced between $150,000-$250,000 target a critical sector of middle-income workforce in the area. These families face a shortage of housing that puts a strain on economic prosperity and job growth.” —Eric Hanna, President and CEO of MCC
MCC lends and invests in income-diverse, race-diverse, and occupation-diverse communities to counter gentrification and create upward mobility and wealth building opportunities for underserved individuals and families in Michigan. They lend and invest, with well-below-market returns, in a wide variety of projects alongside developers, community and neighborhood associations, as well as nonprofit local community development groups.
Since receiving funding, MCC has moved forward with an affordable housing development on Comstock Street in Grand Haven.
“The investment from the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation supported Michigan Community Capital to bring 30 homes to Grand Haven that will be affordable to middle-income households earning between $39,000-$65,000 annually,” said Marilyn Crowley, Vice President, Investment of MCC. “By providing a lower cost of capital to the project, the homes will be able to be sold for approximately $5,000 less than with traditional construction financing. These homes will be high-quality, energy efficient, and, most importantly, affordable to many families working in the region. We are proud of this project and hope this partnership will be a model for creating workforce housing across the state.”
In February 2021, the GHACF board approved a second $1.5 million impact investment, this time with IFF (formerly Illinois Facilities Fund), one of the highest-rated Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) in the country. The five-year investment is to be used within West Michigan, with a particular emphasis on Northwest Ottawa County, to fund loans in the GHACF’s target communities.
IFF is a mission-driven lender, developer, researcher, and real estate consultant serving nonprofits and communities in the Midwest. They will use this investment to lend money to nonprofits for acquisition and renovation of facilities that allow them to achieve their missions.
“Capital is a critical resource that often seems just outside the reach of low-income communities. At IFF, we work hard to change that,” says Chris Uhl, IFF’s Executive Director for the Eastern Region, which includes Michigan and Ohio. “We work side-by-side with nonprofits to not only provide access to capital, but also access to tools and information that build their long-term financial well-being. GHACF’s investment into IFF has been critical to our decision to establish an office in Grand Rapids and scale our services in West Michigan.”
IFF’s top focus areas are affordable housing, schools, and healthcare. IFF has been operating in Michigan for 6 ½ years and have begun expansion into the West Michigan region with plans to open a satellite office in the Grand Rapids area. In Ottawa County specifically, IFF would look to grow relationships with investors and community influencers.
“IFF has been an extraordinary partner and resource in the region over the last several years. This investment from the community foundation will enable IFF to further on potential local projects in Northwest Ottawa County and I’m very excited to work with them to pursue more housing opportunities for families of all incomes.” —Ryan Kilpatrick, AICP & EDFP, Executive Director of Housing Next
“IFF’s history and impact in local communities is impressive, said Streng. “Their expansion into West Michigan means great things for our community, not only because they work in partnership with our local organizations, but because we are investing directly into our community. This type of investment creates sustainable, positive social change, and we hope to support more projects like this in the future.”
These investments complement the GHACF’s current investment policy, programs, and grant-making activities and establish a process for the expanded investment and development of resources in the community. The foundation continues to follow its investment policy and these impact investments will allow further diversification of our portfolio.
For more information about affordable housing, visit Housing Next.