The Santa Fe Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) is an innovative funding mechanism dedicated to funding affordable housing activities. The program was created by City ordinance in 2007 and has since them come to be seen as a best practice for municipal support of housing and is used as a model for other programs around the state. Since 2007, the AHTF invested millions of dollars in affordable housing for locals, spanning the needs from homelessness through foreclosure prevention. Because it is funded with local dollars, it is free of some of the burdensome requirements that make Federal dollars hard to use in the community. Most importantly, investments from the AHTF are required by ordinance to have at least a 3:1 leverage, which means for every public dollar spent, there has to be $3 of private funding that comes into the project. 

What Can the Trust Fund Pay For?

The AHTF is restricted to direct financial assistance for affordable housing activities. Its eligible uses are subject to the New Mexico Affordable Housing Act, and can only be used for subsidizing price-restricted affordable housing development projects, providing direct homebuyer assistance such as downpayment assistance for home purchases, short-term rental housing assistance such as rental vouchers to prevent or end homelessness, or other affordable housing related activities. The funding cannot pay for administration of programs or support services.

How it Works

Within the broad guidelines set in the AHTF ordinance, the City updates its housing needs assessment every five years. Annually, affordable housing priorities are established by the Community Development Commission (a citizen committee that makes recommendations to the City Council). The City then releases a competitive request for applications open to both nonprofit and for-profit applicants. Applications are reviewed and recommendations for funding are provided by the Community Development Commission for Governing Body approval.

Impact

In the last three years, the AHTF has invested nearly $9m in total funding generating over $27m in additional affordable housing investment, impacting more than 2500 households. Specific investments include:

  • 40 Households bought homes made affordable with mortgage assistance to lower their monthly mortgages
  • 122 Homeowners avoided foreclosure during the pandemic
  • 1,451 Renters were helped with rents, utility bills, deposits and back rent
  • 110 Rental homes were constructed
  • 274 Rental homes were rehabbed or upgraded
  • 288 Households with special needs were supported in short term rental situations
  • 94 Affordable homeownership unit received development subsidy
  • 150 Unhoused people were served at Consuelo’s Place

Going Forward

While the AHTF is one of the most innovative and impactful mechanisms for addressing our housing needs in Santa Fe, its funding sources have not always been permanent or recurring. In 2021, the City Council committed $3m of general funds, which was renewed again in 2023. But this source is subject to economic variations and is not guaranteed in future years. Identifying a permanent funding source with at least $3 million of annual funding has been a central goal of the Coalition and subject of a white paper produced in 2021.

With increased and recurring funding we could exponentially increase affordable housing opportunities, while being able to more strategically deploy funding on a multi-year basis. This would allow the community to tackle larger obstacles and support more transformative affordable housing initiatives.