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Mountain Projects receives affordable housing grant

Mountain Projects receives affordable housing grant

Dogwood Health Trust recently invested in affordable housing initiatives in Haywood and Jackson counties by awarding a $872,671 grant to Mountain Projects.

The grant funding is expected to serve more than 400 families through Mountain Projects’ affordable housing division, Smoky Mountain Housing Partnership. The goal of SMHP is to increase affordable homeownership opportunities and increase access to affordable rental units over the next two to five years. The grant will also catalyze a homeownership center that will serve counties throughout the region.

Mountain Projects is one of the original community action agencies formed in 1965 under President Johnson’s War on Poverty. SMHP was formed in 2019 as the affordable housing division of Mountain Projects with offices in Waynesville and Sylva. Its mission is to advocate for and create opportunities for workforce housing. SMHP strives to assist residents in their service area through programs that include financial literacy, down payment help, rental assistance, credit counseling, and home purchasing.

SMHP Executive Director Heather Boyd said the terrain in Haywood and Jackson counties makes buildable land scarce and, as a result, more expensive.

“Support like this from Dogwood Health Trust allows us to jumpstart a few key projects and leverage funds from other sources,” she said. “We anticipate being able to secure an additional $2.4 million from state and federal sources as a result of this grant.”

Specific elements that the $872,671 grant will support include hiring additional housing counselors, covering acquisition and pre-development expenses on housing developments, being able to offset infrastructure and rising materials costs and expansion of affordable rental opportunities. 

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“The team at Smoky Mountain Housing Partnership knows their communities and they understand the constraints that prevent a family from owning a home,” said Sarah Grymes, Dogwood’s Vice President of Impact Investing for Housing​. “They also share Dogwood’s commitment to address the disadvantages created by a lack of affordable housing. It’s our great honor to walk alongside them and to provide support to see real change take place in these counties.”

Boyd noted that with the grant funding from Dogwood, SMHP will be able to catalyze their homeownership center, ultimately serving over 400 families over the next two years. 

“The right housing counselor has the potential to have significant impact in a person’s life,” she said. “Their efforts with a client can create generational impact because they’re doing more than just helping them buy a house; they’re helping them see the bigger picture and instill values that will last a lifetime.” 

HUD-certified housing counselors often work with clients on budgeting, meal planning, credit counseling and foundational life skills that can positively impact their likelihood of homeownership.

To find out more about the services offered through the Smoky Mountain Housing Partnership, visit smokymountainhousing.org or call 828.452.1447.

Haywood Habitat for Humanity, another local nonprofit working toward increasing the number of affordable houses in the county, recently received a $20,000 People in Need grant from The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina. The grant was funded through The Leon Levine Foundation. 

The grant will fund $4,000 on each of the first five new homes in Haywood Habitat’s newest neighborhood in Waynesville’s Chestnut Park. This will reduce the mortgage cost for the Habitat homeowners that purchase the houses. 

“Community support like this provided through CFWNC is key to our ability to continue our work in Haywood County,” said Haywood Habitat Executive Director Jamye Sheppard. “This contributes greatly to keep home ownership costs affordable for families in need of a hand up.  On behalf of Haywood Habitat, especially our homeowners, we are extremely grateful to be awarded this grant.”

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