Dogwood Health Trust Invests in Affordable Housing through SMHP, Mountain Projects

From Dogwood Health Trust

Asheville, N.C. – Dogwood Health Trust announced today its investment in affordable housing in Haywood and Jackson Counties. A grant made to Mountain Projects will go to support their affordable housing division, Smoky Mountain Housing Partnership, in their efforts 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. Smoky Mountain Housing Partnership (SMHP) was formed in 2019 as the affordable housing division of Mountain Projects with offices in Waynesville and Sylva. Their 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.

According to SMHP Executive Director Heather Boyd, 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,” said Boyd. “We anticipate being able to secure an additional $2.4M 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. “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 notes 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,” said Boyd. “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. 

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