In a marathon, the finish line can seem impossibly far away, its distance way beyond any attainable reach. But with each step, each breath, and each thought, an inch is gained towards the finish line. The race to provide affordable housing for all those in need is a similar marathon. It can’t be completed overnight, but instead is won with incremental success and performance throughout years of dedication. Though WHEDA (then WHFA) signed up for the race in 1972, like any good athlete it took its time to train and plan. By 1974, the Authority’s feet hit the track with an amazingly strong start.
Pacing against the bleak housing markets, WHEDA’s first push began in form of its very first initiative, the Multifamily Mortgage Loan Program. Seeking to start strong, the program encouraged developers to create housing units that would cater to large amounts of disenfranchised populations simultaneously, urging them to join in on the race. In providing multifamily housing, WHEDA helped to find immediate relief for the large populations that were suffering from the lack of affordable housing.
Among the first to join the lineup was the River Hills Apartments, a 103 unit complex dedicated to senior citizens. With its development completed in 1975, the apartments became among the first of its caliber, providing for a demographic which had otherwise been underserved. Representative of both WHEDA’s mission and focus, the River Hills Apartments were funded by approximately $1.5 million in mortgage loans from the Multifamily Mortgage Loan program. The development was just one of many that would comprise WHEDA’s first steps on its long journey.
Continuing its service to this population, WHEDA would go on to finance hundreds of units dedicated to senior citizens in the several following years, and would go on to finance major trailblazing projects, such as that of One Penny Place. Though this program would undergo many phases and changes throughout its lifetime, its mission and purpose has remained the same over the last 45 years, cementing itself as a principal WHEDA initiative. Relayed by the creation of similar projects, such as the HOME Loan program, the Multifamily Mortgage Loan program was the blank that signaled the start of the race; a marathon in affordable housing.