Workforce housing — rental units priced for those whose incomes are too high for government subsidies but too low for market-rate rents — is a place to call home for an underserved group of renters often known as the “missing middle.”

These renters are the backbone of our communities. They are firefighters, police officers, nurses, service workers, teachers and more. Typically, they’re cost-burdened by housing expenses with little budget left to spend on day-to-day necessities like food, clothing and health care.

In this video story, we feature a resident who is a small business owner, artist and single mother living in Plant City, Florida at the affordable workforce property Walden Lake.

Lucia, and her son, Joel, creating art in the resident resource center at Walden Lake.

Walden Lake is a 352-unit garden-style apartment complex funded by Bridge Investment Group, Wells Fargo and Freddie Mac Multifamily. The property offers a wide range of amenities for the community, such as a pool, playground, soccer field, basketball court, fitness center and most notably, an on-site resident resource center managed by Project Access.

Project Access, a national nonprofit resident service provider, partners with Bridge on many of their multifamily properties to help renters reach their full potential. Services include afterschool programming, college application prep, employment-readiness, health screenings and community-building events to name a few.

“For over 24 years, Project Access has equipped residents with access, knowledge, skills, and resources to cultivate strong communities, positive changes, and hopeful futures," says Kristin Byrnes, CEO & President of Project Access. "Working with value driven partners like Bridge Investment Group allows us to bring our proven model and services to families in need.”

Beyond providing a safe place to call home, Bridge believes that by keeping rents affordable and offering resident social services, tenants will be happier, healthier and more likely to stay in their homes longer, resulting in better property performance.

This is what we mean by doing well while doing good.

A Look Behind the Scenes  

We saw a unique opportunity to structure a Conventional product for lenders and borrowers who want to make a positive return on their investment and in their communities — leading to the creation of our Tenant Advancement Commitment.

We collaborated with Wells Fargo and Bridge on our first official Tenant Advancement Commitment in 2018. This $400 million commitment financed multiple workforce properties across the country.

Bill Whalen, Rich Stayner and David Quadt discussing the many factors at play behind the making of the deal.

“When we learned about the market-based (non-governmental) workforce housing fund Bridge was starting, we thought it was an excellent idea and wanted to be the primary debt provider to Bridge for this concept,” says Bill Whalen, Managing Director of Investment Banking at Wells Fargo. “Freddie Mac Multifamily thought out of the box to create a product that was reasonable from a pricing, risk and yield perspective, and not too burdensome from a reporting standpoint.”

Walden Lake was the first property funded in this deal for $24.9 million. The agreement ensures that for the life of the loan, rents are kept affordable at 80% area median income or below for more than half the units. And social services are provided to support tenants and strengthen the community.

Since then, we’ve continued to use our Tenant Advancement Commitment with other sponsors, completing 48 deals with over 14,000 units for nearly $1.5 billion in volume.

Whether it’s little “a” affordable or capital “A” affordable, we’re working alongside our Optigo® lenders and sponsors to serve all areas of the market and to make home possible for renters and their families.