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Merritt Community Capital Closes Its Largest Fund| Housing Finance Magazine

Self-Help Enterprises is developing Santa Fe Commons in Tulare, California, with the help of low-income housing tax credit financing from Merritt Community Capital.
Self-Help Enterprises is developing Santa Fe Commons in Tulare, California, with the help of low-income housing tax credit financing from Merritt Community Capital.

Merritt Community Capital announced the closing of the largest fund in the organization’s history at $178.6 million. Fund 23 currently finances nine projects with 729 affordable homes across California.

The latest fund has 13 investors, the most in a single Merritt fund, including six new or reengaged investors and four returning investors making their largest single investments to date, said company officials.

“At Merritt, we believe that everyone in California should have a home in a community where they can thrive, which is why we are investing in affordable housing and people to build a stronger California,” said Ari Beliak, president and CEO. “Fund 23 is Merritt’s largest fund to date and is a testament to the organization’s strong foundation, team, and partnership with mission-aligned investors and developers. We are all working toward building a more equitable future, and Fund 23 puts us closer to that goal. Merritt looks forward to continuing to grow our investments to impact affordable housing in California.”

Of the 729 homes funded, 31% is set aside for seniors, 27% for people with special needs, and 5% for farmworkers. Approximately 30% will be for extremely low-income residents, households earning at or below 30% of the area median income (AMI), and another 50% for very low-income residents, people earning 31% to 50% of the AMI. Fund 23 developments are projected to save $5.67 million in rent per year, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1,339 metric tons, and reduce vehicle miles traveled per year by 2.7 million miles.

Among Merritt’s new partners is Self-Help Enterprises (SHE), the sponsor of Santa Fe Commons, which will bring 80 affordable homes to Tulare in the Central Valley along with wraparound on-site supportive services provided by SHE and Tulare County Health and Human Services.

The development team secured funds from the state’s Joe Serna, Jr. Farmworker Housing Grant program to assist with the construction of the project, which will include 35 units dedicated to families working in California’s agriculture industry. Funding also comes from the state’s No Place Like Home program, which was approved as statewide Proposition 2 in 2018 to fund permanent housing for individuals with mental illness who are homeless or at risk. It is also designed to be a net-zero project, 100% electric with solar units to offset residential electricity usage.

“Self-Help Enterprises is proud to provide an answer to the critical shortage of affordable housing opportunities for individuals and households in Tulare, including essential workers in our agricultural industry. Santa Fe Commons will be a great neighbor and critical community asset for decades to come,” said Tom Collishaw, president and CEO of SHE.

Merritt is a nonprofit low-income housing tax credit syndicator and provider of equity capital for affordable housing in California. Since 1989, it has created and/or preserved 11,000 affordable homes, through investing over $1.2 billion.

It recently launched Commitment to California. An initiative over the next three years to contribute $2.5 million to attract, train, and retain the next generation of affordable housing leaders. Commitment to California will impact over 800 professionals via scholarships, internships, fellowships, career development, and innovative engagement.

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