Every Affordable Home Counts

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New Year Message from Geoffrey Barton, CEO

Dear MHO Community:

I am often asked if meeting the need for affordable housing in our region is possible. It can feel like an insurmountable challenge. In Buncombe County alone, there is a need for over 5,000 new affordable apartments. With our cost of living far surpassing median wages, the dream of homeownership feels out of reach for many.

My answer is that every affordable home counts. While we navigate our region’s unprecedented housing crisis, it’s important to remember that every new home we build and each existing home we preserve makes a tremendous impact in the lives of the people we serve. These positive impacts are felt throughout our communities and across generations. Susan Thomas, President of the Melville Charitable Trust, shares this sentiment succinctly, stating that housing “is not a project. It’s not a program. It is fundamental to being able to do anything else.”

Every affordable home fosters life-changing transformation for its residents. Every affordable home helps improve our community’s health, financial, and educational outcomes. And every affordable home supports a more vibrant future for our region.

No single organization can address our region’s housing challenges. At MHO, we rely on collaboration, partnership, and investment to deliver more and better affordable housing today and in the future.

In 2023, we launched a partnership with Buncombe County to provide down payment assistance for County employees so that more essential public workers can achieve homeownership and stay rooted in the communities they serve. Major employers like Biltmore and Eaton made substantial corporate grants to MHO, understanding that affordable housing resources directly contribute to the strength of our workforce and the health of our regional economy.

We are in the second year of a partnership with Impact Health that expands our Essential Home Repair services through the Healthy Opportunities Pilot (HOP). This innovative collaboration helps Medicaid-enrolled people access the critical home improvements they need to stay healthy and housed.

And at the close of last year, MHO forged a catalytic lending partnership with our longstanding banking partner, First Citizens Bank. First Citizens provided MHO with a $2.5 million low-interest Equity Equivalent loan (EQ2). This new funding will be deployed to secure land for new local affordable housing and fuel our active development pipeline.

Partnerships like this (and so many more) are critical to our ability to address our housing crisis and build a more equitable future. As we kick off 2024, I want to thank you–our MHO Community–for your partnership and support. It is because of you that we can continue our mission to build hope and dignity in the people we serve.

We look forward to sharing upcoming groundbreakings, powerful stories of impact, and updates about our efforts to create and preserve affordable homes.

Warmest wishes for 2024,

Geoffrey Barton, President & CEO
Mountain Housing Opportunities

P.S. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly at geoffrey@mtnhousing.org or (828) 254-4030 ext 130 with questions, ideas, and partnership opportunities.