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Restore SGF announces first round of pledges to spur reinvestment in historic neighborhoods

Published: Feb. 8, 2022 at 8:44 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Restore SGF, a community initiative to improve housing conditions and raise residential property values in Springfield’s historic neighborhoods, started the new year with several pledges of support from local financial institutions. To date, almost $2 million has been pledged, with $1.5 million in loan funding and $250,000 in grants.

“Restore SGF continues to build momentum and excitement regarding funding and implementation. Thank you to Commerce Bank, Central Bank, OakStar Bank, Bancorp South, and Legacy Bank for their pledges,” said Community Foundation of the Ozarks President Brian Fogle. Fogle, a former banker, is a member of the initiative’s launch team. CFO has pledged $20,000 over five years ($100,000 total) in grant funding for Restore SGF, plus $500,000, for the initiative’s revolving loan fund.

Fogle says CFO was drawn to Restore SGF because the organization’s goal is to improve the quality of life for people in the area. One of the ways to do that is to improve neighborhoods within Springfield.

“The rising cost of homes and affordability nationally, that has gone up significantly and we think some of the best values for homeownership would be in some of our older historic neighborhoods,” Fogle says.

Fogle says the homeownership rate in Springfield has dropped to 39%, well below the national average of 64%. Restore SGF hopes to change that.

“It will provide opportunities for people to invest in homeownership there and lift their own economic circumstances up and just make those neighborhoods stronger,” Fogle says. “One of the goals of Restore SGF is not only to build an economic capital but to build social capital.”

Neighborhood Advisory Council co-chair Rusty Worley says for years Springfield has worked to revitalize the commercial business areas. However, residential neighborhoods haven’t seen the same investment.

“There’s a real shortage of homes,” Worley says. “We hear there’s a need for much more affordable housing and we hear from our neighborhood advocates at city council meetings consistently that we have too many problem properties and nuisance properties.”

Worley says Restore SGF’s funding will go towards things like grants for property owners to improve their homes, and educating people on their options when it comes to buying a home. Despite growth happening in Springfield, Worley says communities outside city limits have grown twice as fast.

“Too often we don’t have the inventory available at the price range they need so they follow the example of their parents and go out to the bedroom communities,” Worley says. “We hope with this to offer more programs within the city limits to keep them within walking and biking distance of the places they love.”

Worley says the goal is to focus on about four neighborhoods within Springfield, but Restore SGF has not decided which neighborhoods.

In addition to CFO’s pledge, OakStar Bank, Commerce Bank, and Legacy Bank have committed $10,000 over three years ($30,000 total) in grant funding, while Central Bank has committed $20,000 over three years ($60,000 total) in grant funding. Legacy Bank and Central Bank have each committed $250,000 for the revolving loan fund, and Systematic Savings & Loan committed $500,000 to mortgage loans in Restore SGF’s program areas.

Pledging support to Restore SGF is a concrete way for financial institutions to show their commitment to Springfield’s low-to-moderate income neighborhoods and help improve the community, he added.

The commitment that Restore SGF is asking from financial institutions involves:

  • a multi-year pledge of grant funds matching homeowners’ funds for exterior home repairs. These funds will be deployed on five to 20 home “line of sight bundles” for maximum impact.
  • a pledge of revolving loan funds for major home renovations.
  • a pledge to make normal home loans in Restore SGF’s targeted neighborhoods.

Financial institution representatives are encouraged to contact Fogle at 417-864-6199 if they have questions.

About Restore SGF

Fogle and a group of Restore SGF supporters, including Neighborhood Advisory Council co-chairs Rusty Worley and Becky Volz, 131st District Rep. Bill Owen, City staff, City Council members and other community members traveled to Des Moines to learn about a similar initiative called Invest DSM last summer.

Restore SGF has asked City Council and the Greene County Commission for American Rescue Plan Act funding to get the program off the ground.

Goals include encouraging home ownership and enhancing Springfield’s housing stock.

“Program-related Investment” (PRI) is one of the commitment options for Restore SGF. The goal of this pool of funds is to provide “patient capital” to allow the new organization to be a catalyst in neighborhoods when the private sector has yet to build investor confidence.

In redeveloping neighborhoods, there are those houses and/or multi-family dwellings that have deteriorated significantly and are a detraction to the neighborhood. Because of the neglect, and the nature of appraisals reflecting past transactions, often the initial investments into a neighborhood may have appraisal challenges, or just a lack of investor confidence because there is not yet a history of an acceptable investment return.

PRI provides much-needed patient capital to let the organization acquire, rehab, and eventually, sell a property to provide a catalyst for other development. As investors gain confidence, and the comparables for appraisals catch up, the private market takes over, Fogle explained.

“The intent of that investment is truly just that – a longer-term, low-interest loan to provide the patient capital. The expectation is to return the funds to the original investor. It will be treated as an investment, not a grant, but will have more flexible terms than a traditional real estate development loan. PRIs are not uncommon in the community development and philanthropic world, and Community Foundation of the Ozarks has made several over the past few years,” he said.

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