March 12, 2018

A door opens: 2018 Annual Funding Opportunity

We're open! The Housing Opportunities portfolio is pleased to begin accepting applications for a third cycle of our Annual Funding Opportunity. In 2018, we will be deploying about $3.9 million to open doors to opportunity and strengthen communities through safe, affordable housing.

The application process kicks off March 15, 2018, and will continue for almost five weeks, closing at 5 p.m. April 18, 2018. In that time, Meyer will be hosting information sessions at seven sites around the state. Two additional virtual information sessions, March 20 and April 4, will focus on the Housing Opportunities portfolio. Attending a live or virtual session will give you the most up-to-date information on our process and the details of the Annual Funding Opportunity.

Initial Applications should advance one of our overarching Housing Opportunities funding goals:

  1. Preserve + increase the number of affordable housing rental units.
  2. Support the housing stability + success of Oregonians living on low incomes.
  3. Strengthen the housing sector by building capacity, diversity, equity and inclusion + collaboration.

Each of these goals has intended outcomes, and you are encouraged to review the funding goals, strategies and outcomes as you consider how your work aligns with the vision for this portfolio. Click here to find a visual representation of Meyer's goals, outcomes, funding ranges and types to help you assess the best fit. Equally important is the shorter list of what doesn't fit well with the portfolio.

In 2017, the Housing Opportunities portfolio received 78 applications in the Annual Funding Opportunity and ultimately awarded 39 grants in a competitive process (a 50 percent funding rate). These grants reflected a range of approaches, united by a common understanding that housing is key to flourishing and equitable communities and a vision that every Oregonian has a stable, safe and affordable place to call home. More information on the 2017 housing grant slate can be found here, and all of last year's Annual Funding Opportunity grants are listed here.

What we've learned

With two annual funding cycles under our belt, we can share a few observations about the process.

  • Showing an equity commitment. Meyer's grantmaking centers around equity principles, such as understanding and working to address the disparate housing outcomes experienced by seniors, people with disabilities, people of color and other marginalized populations. All applicants must demonstrate a commitment to ongoing growth through the integration of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) principles into both their external programming or services and internal structures and operations.

Although we don't expect perfection from our partners (nor do we have it ourselves!), we do expect to see commitment to advancing DEI principles in your work. Conversely, a proposal that mentions no specific efforts to advance your organizational commitment to DEI will be challenged to succeed in the competitive batch.

  • Timing for capital proposals can be tricky. The Initial Applications we see can be at all stages of the development process, from firm concept to nearly completing the fundraising process or breaking ground. If your project is on the more nascent side — indicated perhaps by a lack of site control, the design is far from ready and the financing plan is still unclear — it is hard to be competitive against projects farther along the development path.

Think about when these pieces might be coming into place. If you expect important legal decisions, site control or design features finalized soon, and major funding decisions determined by late summer, it probably makes sense to apply in this year's cycle. If many of these pieces are not expected until late 2018 or beyond, we'd likely counsel you to consider waiting. At a minimum, you should feel free to consult with housing staff by emailing questions [at] mmt.org.

  • General operating support has a high bar. As noted in our funding guidelines, we have heightened expectations from organizations that are awarded unrestricted operating support. First and foremost, they should be housing organizations (do a majority of their work in affordable housing) and strongly advance the core funding goals in our Housing Opportunities portfolio. Additionally, they should play a unique and/or important role in the field and have wider impact for the sector (e.g., as an intermediary, is seen as a field leader in Oregon or nationally); demonstrate leadership for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the context of the communities where they work; and have DEI strategies as a meaningful part of their work plan for the grant period. Reach out if you have questions about whether to apply for this funding type.
  • Multiple grants and organizational capacity. Two rounds of annual funding opportunities and multiple Requests for Proposals over the past four years mean that some organizations are managing multiple Meyer grants, in either the housing portfolio and/or other portfolios.

We allow these multiple grants and encourage them if the organization has sufficient capacity to advance multiple projects and collaborative efforts at the same time. During the review process, we look at capacity concerns and also consider how much of an organization's overall financial support may be coming from various Meyer grants, including collaborative grants. We wouldn't want an organization to inadvertently bump up against the "tipping" rules of the Internal Revenue Service (which seek to ensure nonprofits have a diversified funding base and do not "tip" over to be treated as private foundations).

As a reminder, if you received a multiyear grant from a previous annual funding opportunity and that grant is ending this year, you can apply again in the 2018 round. If you are in doubt, reach out and we'll confirm your eligibility.

Other funding opportunities this year

In addition to the 2018 Annual Funding Opportunity, the Housing portfolio expects to release two Requests for Proposals (RFPs) that tie to the Affordable Housing Initiative, Meyer's focused five-year effort to catalyze outcome-oriented, transformational strategies that will move the dial on affordable housing in Oregon.

These RFPs will be tied to the Cost Efficiencies Strategy (an effort to develop models for creating and preserving affordable units as cost effectively as possible over the units' lifespan) and the Private Market Strategy (efforts to expand low-income renters' access to safe, decent, affordable housing through existing private market units). Both of these RFPs are expected to be released around July 2018, and organizations that apply to the 2018 Annual Funding Opportunity are not precluded from applying to a targeted RFP (assuming it has sufficient capacity, as described above). Sign up for the Meyer newsletter to make sure you hear about any RFP releases.

Additional resources

Want more information about what we look for? We've gathered a set of Applicant Resources, with everything from building a budget to understanding our definition of collaborations and learning more about diversity, equity and inclusion. You are encouraged to review those resources at any time.

Final thoughts

One of the best parts of our year is seeing all the amazing work across the state to bring affordable housing to our neighbors. Your work is deeply impressive and energizing. We're excited to see what you're working on and connecting in the 2018 Annual Funding Opportunity and the coming year!

— Theresa