Founded in 1896, Volunteers of America (VOA) is a national, nonprofit, faith-based organization dedicated to helping people in need rebuild their lives and reach their full potential. VOA supports and empowers America’s most vulnerable groups, including at-risk youth, the elderly, men and women returning from prison, homeless individuals and families, people with disabilities, and those recovering from addictions.
While VOA is a national organization, its human service programs continue to be locally created, managed and delivered through its 38 independent local agencies. In 2009, these services helped more than two million people, and VOA was selected as one of Worth magazine’s 100 best charities and was also included in the Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money magazine list of the 100 most efficient charities.
VOA sponsored its first housing project, Kennedy Homes, a 172-unit project in Gainesville, Florida, in 1968. That same year, VOA National Housing Corporation was formed to provide property management services, and in 1970, VOA created VOA Health Services for the purpose of sponsoring and operating long-term care facilities. In 1997, these separate corporations were merged to form Volunteers of America National Services (VOANS), to lead VOA’s housing and healthcare activities, with responsibilities for the development and acquisition of new facilities and management and asset oversight for all existing properties.
Today VOANS is the nation’s largest nonprofit developer of affordable housing for low-income families, the elderly, and people with disabilities. The organization is also a major operator of nursing facilities, assisted-living complexes and medical clinics. Continuing its founders’ legacy of meeting community needs, the organization now has more than 100 different types of services offered in more than 400 communities nationwide. For the second year in a row, VOANS was named one of the top 10 affordable housing developers in the country by Affordable Housing Finance magazine.
VOANS has developed and continues to manage and operate 225 properties comprising more than 11,000 units, 95 percent of which are affordable to low, very-low or extremely low-income households. Half of the units are service-enriched senior housing, 22 percent are family, and 28 percent are for special needs populations. All programs predominately serve low-income individuals who are also typically welfare and Medicaid recipients. Several of the facilities owned by VOANS have been singled out as models for the assisted living industry by federal, state, and local officials.
In 2010, VOANS engaged CBO Financial to assist them in the development of a competitive New Markets Tax Credit application. The purpose of the federal New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program is to stimulate new investment in low income and oftentimes severely distressed communities that would not otherwise occur. To date, this program has generated 594 allocation awards totaling $29.5 billion in allocation authority, with an anticipated additional $3.5 billion being allocated during the 2011 application season.
CBO Financial assisted VOANS with establishing and certifying a Community Development Entity, VOANS CDE, and authored their 2010 NMTC application. In February, 2011, VOANS CDE was awarded $35 million in NMTC allocation.
The NMTC allocation will enable VOANS to provide innovative financing products to their affiliated social service agencies for the first time. Flexible financing products offered by VOANS will be used to help fund an extensive pipeline of social-service oriented facility projects, including renovation, expansion and new construction. Products include equity investments, predevelopment loans, subordinated debt to close gaps in funding, and financial counseling to VOA offices and community partners nationwide. Use of these products will resolve the following problems: lack of funding for feasibility analysis and predevelopment expenses, lack of flexible, equity-like gap financing, and lack of technical assistance.
CBO Financial provided tremendous support and leadership in the submission of a successful New Markets Tax Credit application for Volunteers of America. They guided us each step of the way, providing thoughtful and timely expert advice as the organization developed the application. We look forward to working closely with them as we begin the operations of the CDE and start to close transactions. —Robert Gibson, VP Housing Operations and Finance
VOANS continues to engage CBO Financial’s support in starting up and refining NMTC operations, training staff on the NMTC program and reporting requirements, as well as determining the most effective financing products and options to implement in the deployment of the $35 million NMTC allocation.
The VOANS pipeline of projects, serving low-income persons and communities nationwide, has been generated through years of effort and ongoing success in achieving meaningful results in three priority areas: