Strong Families Fund

Mother, father and toddler girl on sofa

Cinnaire provided a $14.8 million Low Income Housing Tax Credit investment to develop Deborah Strong Housing, the first project in the Strong Families Fund (SFF), a ten-year pilot pay-for-performance initiative to finance social service coordination and affordable housing.  With funding provided by the Kresge and Robert Wood Foundation, the SFF builds on the framework that safe, affordable housing is a platform to improve the lives of tenants and the communities in which they live. 

The initiative builds on the model that combining housing with supportive services serves as a platform to increase housing stability, create economic mobility and improve health outcomes for people and communities.

The SSF brings together high-quality affordable housing with intensive social services for low-income families. The program is supported through a collaborative partnership between Kresge Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Cinnaire, Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), National Affordable Housing Trust, Key Bank, Goldman Sachs and the Community Development Trust.

SFF uses a pay for performance model to incentivize data collection, track property maintenance and resident outcomes and to engage mainstream systems and funders in the scaling and sustainability of the program. The fund combines federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) for capital development with a pay-for-performance model to provide access to up to 10 years of incentive payments to housing developments.

In return, developments must provide an on-site social-service coordinator targeted to improving resident and property outcome measures in five areas, including health and wellness, children and youth, housing stability, education and community engagement.

Multiple studies have cited improved outcomes for families and children when high-quality affordable housing is paired with distinct links to services. Research shows housing connected with support services may also lead to a reduction in public-sector costs. The SFF brings together affordable housing developers and investors with  focused interests like health, justice, education, as well  other mainstream funders to address their shared goals of supporting housing stability, creating economic prosperity and improving quality of life in order to achieve healthier outcomes for families and communities.

See the Strong Families Funder Spotlight.

 

How Does It Work?

Cinnaire provided a $14.8 Million Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) investment to support Deborah Strong Housing in Ypsilanti, Michigan, the first housing project in the SFF initiative. Completed in 2016, the project included the rehabilitation of existing public housing units to include 112 units over 12 scattered sites. The development features a mix of one- and two-story duplexes and garden-style buildings.

All units are targeted to families earning 60% of Area Median Income (AMI) or less. Additionally, all 112 units provide Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance as a result of the conversion of the public housing through HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program.

The Deborah Strong sites are all located within four miles of each other and are in close proximity to schools, commercial, recreational, and healthcare services. The development features community centers, state-of-the-art playgrounds, computer labs, community rooms with full kitchens and a management office. Close proximity to Eastern Michigan University (EMU) gives residents easy access to the Family Empowerment Program (FEP), an initiative of EMU to help families living in Ypsilanti Housing Commission complexes make strides toward self-sufficiency in three key areas – employment, education, and health/wellness.

The FEP is designed to be flexible enough to address the needs a vulnerable individual may have: housing, food assistance, childcare, transportation, access to health and dental care, all using the tools of self-empowerment, self-reliance and agency with the support and coaching of the FEP staff. Residents are encouraged to participate in onsite programs including vaccination clinics, book clubs, IDA savings program supporting careers, and opportunities to connect to technology. The project has worked to address virtual education gaps by opening learning hubs at several sites throughout the development.

The result of the Strong Families Fund is a synergy of housing and health noting the foundational elements of both. Strong services lead to strong individuals, who contribute to strong families and ultimately result in strong communities.