Comunidad in Partnership with Freddie Mac and Bellwether Launch Innovative Social Impact Financing Program
Unique financing commitment supports $300 million effort to maintain affordable rents and provide social impact services for diverse communities across the U.S.
September 21, 2021 – Comunidad Partners (Comunidad) has secured a $300 million financing commitment through Bellwether Enterprise (Bellwether) and Freddie Mac that supports the creation or preservation of affordable workforce housing throughout the United States. The unique initiative is backed by Freddie Mac’s Tenant Advancement Commitment, which offers competitive financing to operators who agree to maintain or enhance affordability for the duration of the loan purchased by Freddie Mac at properties that do not have regulatory rent restrictions. As part of the arrangement, Comunidad is also providing social services at each of the properties financed to support resident health and wellness, youth and adult education, and economic advancement.
“The need to create and preserve affordability in housing while simultaneously integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles into our communities at scale was the thrust behind crafting this innovative capital markets product in partnership with Freddie Mac,” said Antonio Marquez, managing partner at Comunidad. “We anticipate this new social impact financing commitment will pave the way for thousands of workforce / affordable units to remain affordable, with the added benefit of improved social impact outcomes for our residents in the years ahead.”
Freddie Mac has already purchased $86 million dollars in loans originated by Bellwether on behalf of Comunidad through its lending facility. Loans purchased must meet one of three affordability requirements that are maintained through the life of the loan:
- At least 20% of units affordable to residents making no more than 60% of the area median income (AMI)
- At least 51% of units affordable at 80% AMI and at least 10% affordable at 60% AMI
- 75% of units affordable to residents making no more than 80% of AMI
Bellwether funded and Freddie Mac purchased the first two loans under the Tenant Advancement Commitment earlier this year: Oaks at Holcomb Bridge and Metro 7000.
Oaks at Holcomb Bridge is a 304-unit garden-style apartment complex located in Roswell, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb. Comunidad agreed to restrict rents at 75% of the units to 30% of 80% AMI, in an area where rents have increased 13% in the past five years. Comunidad also plans to invest $1.35 million in capital improvements.
Metro 7000 is a 206-unit garden-style apartment in Fort Worth, Texas. Comunidad self-imposed affordability restrictions in a market where rents have increased 5% over the last three years. Comunidad plans to invest $1.1 million in capital improvements.
Comunidad will also offer social services for residents of both properties. These services include telehealth, concierge resource referral, resident council meetings, youth education services, health and wellness education, and economic advancement education/opportunities. Community assessments and resident surveys will help Comunidad and Freddie Mac assess the ongoing impact of these essential social services for underserved populations.
Comunidad is also leveraging its proprietary ESG data analytics platform to measure its social impact initiative against key performance indicators. The resulting data will allow for reporting that aligns with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and Freddie Mac’s Sustainability Bonds Framework. Veritas Impact Partners will be partnering with Comunidad to implement the social impact and resident services that will be provided at the properties under the Tenant Advancement Commitment.
Anthony Tarter, who structured the arrangement as executive vice president and director of Workforce Housing and Social Impact for Bellwether, said, “Preserving naturally occurring affordable housing for the missing middle class of America and facilitating social impact services for tenants has always been a goal of mine. Antonio Marquez of Comunidad and Freddie Mac are committed to this mission and together, our efforts will result in the preservation of thousands of multifamily units across numerous states.”
“Freddie Mac’s Tenant Advancement Commitment is preserving affordable rents and providing essential social services that benefit entire communities,” said Debby Jenkins, executive vice president and head of Multifamily for Freddie Mac. “Comunidad and Bellwether are pioneers in this effort, and we are so proud to have found an innovative financing structure that will accelerate their efforts in alignment with our new Multifamily Equity initiative to advance tenant interest.”
Comunidad is a women- and minority-owned real estate investment firm that specializes in workforce and affordable housing in culturally diverse neighborhoods. The company specializes in revitalizing affordable and workforce apartments in infill locations and implementing its specialized cultural management platform, which includes cultural upgrades, community investment initiatives, and ESG / social impact programs. In many of its communities, social programming includes items such as virtual health care, ESL classes, job fairs, health and wellness programs, soccer clinics, and after-school programs, among many others.
According to Marquez, the firm believes in investing in its residents as the real asset, a strategy that directly impacts property performance.
“The relationship between resident success and property success is positively correlated and symbiotic,” says Marquez. “By providing residents with essential tools for success and creating environments that foster upward mobility, we can positively transform our communities, reduce turnover, increase retention and enhance the long-term value of each asset. We are continually expanding our portfolio to serve more residents across the nation.”
Comunidad’s innovative approach and commitment to social impact has also been demonstrated through its recent launch of a free telehealth program for its residents, in partnership with Veritas Impact Partners. The program is one of the first to provide health access at scale from a landlord as traditionally these services have been provided through an employer.
Comunidad has invested in more than 40 communities throughout the country, totaling more than 11,000 workforce and affordable housing units, and plans to continue to expand its portfolio across the Sun Belt regions.
About Comunidad Partners:
Comunidad Partners is a dynamic real estate investment firm that specializes in workforce and affordable housing in culturally diverse neighborhoods. To date, the firm has invested in more than 40 communities throughout the country totaling more than 11,000 workforce and affordable housing units. Core to its investment strategy is creating culturally relevant, inclusive communities that are tailored to the various ethnicities living at its communities. The company specializes in revitalizing apartments in infill locations and implementing its proprietary cultural management platform. For more information, please visit: Home – Comunidad Partners.
About Bellwether Enterprise:
In 2012, Bellwether Real Estate and Enterprise Community Investment’s Multifamily Mortgage Finance group merged to form Bellwether Enterprise Real Estate Capital, LLC (“BWE”). BWE is one of the fastest-growing, privately held and employee-owned mortgage banking companies in the country. BWE is a nationwide, direct Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lender that also has over 65 correspondent agreements with Life Companies for commercial mortgages. Anthony Tarter and his team lead the National Workforce Housing and Social Impact Initiatives across the country and have closed over 85 deals totaling $1.5 Billion in the past 18 months.
About Freddie Mac
Freddie Mac Multifamily is the nation’s multifamily housing finance leader. Historically, more than 90% of the eligible rental units we fund are affordable to families with low-to-moderate incomes earning up to 120% of area median income. Freddie Mac securitizes about 90% of the multifamily loans it purchases, thus transferring the majority of the expected credit risk from taxpayers to private investors. Freddie Mac makes home possible for millions of families and individuals by providing mortgage capital to lenders. Since its creation by Congress in 1970, the company has made housing more accessible and affordable for homebuyers and renters in communities nationwide. Learn more at FreddieMac.com, Twitter @FreddieMac and Freddie Mac’s blog FreddieMac.com/blog.