Why This Funder Invests Heavily in Habitat for Humanity

The Meyer Memorial Trust (MMT) is a top funder in Oregon, with a major focus on helping low-income families, and Habitat for Humanity is among the most well-known nonprofits in America, with a big operation in Oregon. So it's no surprise that the two organizations work together. What's striking, though, is how deep this relationship goes.

This year, Habitat for Humanity has received a total of $785,000 from the Meyer Memorial Trust for multiple projects in Oregon. So what makes this player in the affordable housing market such a good bet for the Meyer Memorial Trust?

MMT has been providing grants to HFH Oregon since 1991, according to the trust's grants database. Award amounts and numbers have gradually grown over the years, with MMT funding more extensive and wide-reaching projects. With this kind of a growing history, successful projects likely boosted MMT's interest in building on HFH's solid foundation. 

HFH has both national and state infrastructure to support its efforts. At the state level, HFH Oregon just produced its first Annual Report in 2013. It reports that it has 32 state affiliate branches and it built 75 houses in 2013. During that same year, it also rehabbed 10 homes, repaired 42, and served a total of 127 families.

All of the Oregon HHF funds are granted as "responsive grants." These cover five potential funding requests: capacity building, core operating support, capital proposals, project-based proposals, and technology proposals. The funded proposals ranged from $25,000 to build a single home for a low-income family to $300,000 in Cully, "to support staffing and infrastructure development for 21 homes through the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative in Cully." 

So how does this all boil down to the nuts and bolts of projects? In neighborhoods like Cully, where the Portland Business Journal reports 90 percent of the kids are eligible for free lunch and 42 percent of families spend more than half their income on housing, 150 homes will get repairs and 21 homes will be built for the purpose of selling them to low-income residents.

The McMinnville Area Habitat for Humanity also received a $300,000 grant recently. This money will be applied to build infrastructure in the 35-home Aspire Community Development Project in McMinnville.