The mission of the Front Porch Initiative is to promote home ownership in rural communities. That’s a big goal, and we can’t do it all on our own. So, we’ve built a coalition of institutional partners who offer their expertise and help support our work. We have collaborators in industry, not-for-profit, and government sectors. In this post, we’d like to introduce you to a few of our institutional support partners.
For three years, Fannie Mae, a leading source of financing for mortgage lenders, has been supporting the Initiative’s “Test and Learn” plan, which will develop home building documentation and study the social and economic impact of increased rural home ownership on local communities. The documentation provides detailed drawings and resources for building four of the 20K Homes, what we call our product line homes. Each product line home is built to maximize resilience and efficiency while supporting health and equity among rural homeowners.
The Initiative is collaborating with another finance industry partner, Wells Fargo, to improve home ownership among citizens in West Alabama. Wells Fargo, a leading financial services company, is providing research and development support for continuing work at Rural Studio, focusing specifically on ways to increase home ownership among African American residents.
In addition to industry partners, the Initiative has a multi-faceted collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development department to help build housing in rural America. Recently, USDA awarded us a Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) grant to provide enhanced technical assistance to Mountain T.O.P., a faith-based volunteer program based in Grundy County, Tennessee. Previously, Mountain T.O.P. focused on repairing homes in the rural Cumberland Plateau area, but with this grant, they will also begin building new construction homes for local residents.
USDA has also temporarily assigned Meghan Walsh, Senior Architect for USDA Rural Housing Service, to support the Initiative. Walsh brings expertise in both architecture and mortgage financing, which will help promote a sustainable model of home procurement that recognizes and accommodates the needs of rural home buyers.
In the coming months, our blog will feature these partners and others who are helping us achieve the goal of rural home ownership, so check back and read about our progress!