Fannie Mae wants affordable housing developers to focus on resident wellbeing

GSE now offer loan discounts for certain multifamily properties

Last year, Fannie Mae launched a program designed to increase the development of healthy living options for residents of affordable, multifamily rental properties.

The program, called Healthy Housing Rewards, targets developers and offers them an incentive to include healthy design features, like including common spaces, community gardens, playgrounds, into the design of newly constructed or rehabilitated affordable, multifamily rental properties.

Now, Fannie Mae is rolling out a new feature of the program that encourages developers to focus more on the health and wellbeing of their residents.

The program, called Enhanced Resident Services, offers developers a lower borrowing rate in exchange for providing health and wellness programs, day care, food access, youth and education programming, and job training to their residents.

Bob Simpson, vice president of affordable and green financing at Fannie Mae, said that the government-sponsored enterprise believes that the “strength of an affordable rental housing property is directly linked to the health and stability” of its residents.

“Affordable borrowers have recognized the value of providing enhanced resident services at their properties for years, but have been constrained by the inability to ensure a long term source of financial support,” Simpson said. 

“By participating in our Healthy Housing Rewards program, borrowers will save between $15,000 and $75,000 per year,” Simpson added. “Amounts saved can be used to offset resident services costs at their property for the life of the loan – thus ensuring that the low income residents who live there have access to health, education and other community services.”

To qualify for the lowering borrowing rate, at least 60% of the units in multifamily properties seeking the pricing incentive must serve residents earning at 60% of average median income or less.

Fannie Mae said that it will implement the program with help from Stewards for Affordable Housing for the Future, a nonprofit multi-state group of affordable housing providers that offers initial and ongoing compliance certifications for both the borrower and the multifamily affordable housing property providing the special services.

“Healthy Housing Rewards Enhanced Resident Services is a groundbreaking approach to supporting individuals and families in affordable rental housing,” Eileen Fitzgerald, president and CEO of SAHF, said. “We congratulate Fannie Mae on their innovation and foresight in creating a financing strategy that supports ongoing resident services that improve health and wellness and fosters economic opportunity and independence for low-income individuals and families.”

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