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WASHINGTON, DC-MacArthur Foundation has contributed $32.5 million in seed funding to launch a program that will preserve some 70,000 affordable rental homes in 12 cities and states. Federal and state funds will be used to supplement what the Chicago-based non-profit has contributed, bringing the total amount of the program to $147 million.

It was announced yesterday by Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Mel Martinez, US Senator and former HUD Secretary, Jonathan F. Fanton, president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, John Hickenlooper, mayor of Denver and Sister Lillian Murphy, the CEO of Mercy Housing.

MacArthur’s $32.5-million investment is being divvied up into $9.5 million, to be provided in grants, and $23 million, which will be dispersed in ten-year loans at 2%. The $147 million represents that combined amount of federal and state and philanthropic capital that has been committed to the project, Erika Poethig, associate director for Housing at MacArthur, told GlobeSt.com after the briefing. “In fact I would say that number is a very conservative one because it doesn’t include the permanent financing that will be available to properties once it has this backing.”

A broader back of the envelop estimate, she says, “is that our investments will leverage $3 billion to $5 billion in long term financing and other capital over a ten year period.”

Poethig says there are no plans to expand the program beyond the 12 participants. State and local governments in 40 states competed for MacArthur’s support. The Foundation’s funding for these 12 projects is a part of MacArthur’s Window of Opportunity initiative, a $150-million, ten-year effort to preserve affordable rental homes across the nation.

The 12 participants are: Denver, Florida, Iowa, Los Angeles, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon/Portland, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington/Seattle.

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