Appalachia is a place of great beauty and natural resources, yet it is also a place that faces some of the strongest economic hardships in the country. Among the needs we face, housing is one of the greatest and it has a large bearing on every aspect of a family and community including health, financial well-being, and educational attainment.
For over 35 years, Fahe has provided solutions to these issues, becoming the “go-to” Appalachian housing experts. In fact, Fahe and our Members are the primary or only providers of housing, rehab/retrofit services, and access to financing in these persistently poor communities. We understand rural housing because we are from this place; we have cultivated our “boots on the ground” knowledge and mixed it with expertise in mortgage origination, third party lending, loan servicing, construction, financing, and multi-family housing needs. Because of our longevity, success, and proficiency, we are recognized as rural housing experts locally, regionally, and nationally.
History of Housing
In the late 70’s, the Human Economic Appalachian Development (HEAD) Corporation was developing several initiatives to improve the lives of low-income people in Appalachia. HEAD worked closely with the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) to conduct a feasibility study for a new regional housing entity. The study identified five key rationales for the creation of the housing organization:
- There was a large number of substandard housing units in Appalachia which indicated the need for quality, affordable housing.
- There was a lack of overall coordination and direction for housing programs in the region which resulted in the underutilization of federal resources like Farmers Home Administration (FHA) and HUD.
- Many areas were unserved and underserved because of spotty coverage from housing programs.
- There was a desire to more broadly involve grassroots church organizations in housing
- There was desire to integrate housing with other community development efforts such as utilizing native hardwoods, energy conservation, and creating a regional building supply cooperative.
Fahe was created to address those needs and over the years as our Membership has grown we have risen to the challenges and made significant impact.
Challenges of Poor Housing
The lack of quality affordable housing can lead to many hardships including failing health, lost money due to poorly insulated homes, and elevated stress levels. Lack of housing also seriously impacts a community by hindering a thriving workforce as few people are willing to move to a location without proper shelter. With a poverty rate of 20.1%, Central Appalachia needs support and access to resources.
By working with our 50+ Members across 6 states, we are able to produce real housing results, such as bolstering USDA mortgage programs so they are able to reach people in isolated communities. As rural housing experts we understand that a home is the doorway to improved educational attainment and economic prosperity. As we expand on our mission to eliminate persistent poverty in Appalachia to include leadership, education, health and social services, and economic opportunity, housing will remain a cornerstone.
To date, the Fahe Network has provided needed resources to Appalachia, bettering the lives of over 300,000 families. Our momentum continues to carry us forward to new opportunities, and we will utilize these resources and partnerships to bring about greater change and improvement in the housing needs of Central Appalachia.