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North Carolina Housing Finance Agency Wins Four National Awards

Press Contact Only:
Margaret Matrone, NCHFA, 919-877-5606,
Connie Helmlinger, NCHFA, 919-877-5607,

The North Carolina Housing Finance Agency won four awards for excellence at the National Council of State Housing Agencies’ annual conference in San Francisco last month. In a field of 53 state agencies and 124 award entries, North Carolina won awards for:

  • a mortgage program for low-income, rural home buyers;
  • innovative use of federal Housing Credits to provide high-quality accessible housing for renters with disabilities and homeless persons;
  • a guide that helps builders comply with Fair Housing requirements and building codes for multifamily construction; and
  • the agency’s work in Louisiana on behalf of Hurricane Katrina victims.

“This is a great honor for our agency and for North Carolina,” said Lucius Jones, chairman of the N.C. Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA) board of directors. “It is unusual for an agency to win four awards in one year. This is a wonderful recognition of the work our agency and its partners do to create affordable housing opportunities in the state.”

The Rural Opportunity Mortgage is available for buyers whose incomes are too low to benefit from the agency’s First-Time Home Buyer Mortgage. NCHFA partners with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development to provide a first mortgage at 0 percent  interest and a second mortgage with an interest rate as low as 1 percent. The Rural Opportunity Mortgage is the only product in the country that uses federal HOME program funds to leverage USDA Rural Development Direct Loans. By serving home buyers in areas that are difficult for traditional lenders, the effort has increased the number of NCHFA mortgages in underserved, rural counties by 27 percent. It has made home ownership possible for families with an average income of $26,318, almost 30 percent lower than the agency’s standard borrowers.

Since 2002, the N.C. Housing Finance Agency has partnered with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services to set aside for persons with disabilities and the homeless, 10 percent of apartments financed with federal Housing Credits. The Key Program provides a bridge subsidy that makes rental housing affordable for these households until they become eligible for HUD rent assistance. In addition, 5 percent of apartments must meet a higher accessibility standard than required by law, including curbless showers and full turnaround bathrooms.

The agency’s Field Guide to Multifamily Construction helps to ensure that apartments financed by the N.C. Housing Finance Agency meet certain standards for design, accessibility and energy efficiency. The Field Guide condenses hundreds of pages of regulations, requirements and building codes into a short, illustrated booklet for project designers and construction managers. By helping builders understand upfront what is required, the Field Guide has reduced the need for expensive tear-outs and repairs, has simplified inspections, and has fostered increased cooperation between NCHFA staff and development teams.

To facilitate rebuilding of housing in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Congress enacted the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005 to create a special allocation of Housing Credits. However, the credits had to be issued by the end of the calendar year. To meet the deadline, Louisiana Housing Finance Agency sought assistance from other state housing agencies. The N.C. Housing Finance Agency was among those who sent staff to Louisiana to help process the applications.  As a result, all the Katrina-related financing was awarded on time. The award recognized all the state housing agencies that came together to meet this goal.

The North Carolina Housing Finance agency is a self-supporting public agency. It has financed more than 170,000 homes and apartments in the last three decades.

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