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Affordable Housing Trust Fund

East Tennessee Foundation’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF, or the Fund) was established in 1993 with contributions from Knoxville's Community Development Corporation and the City of Knoxville.  Subsequent contributions have been received each year from the City of Knoxville.  The Fund has so far supported the production, preservation, and rehabilitation of owner-occupied housing for low-income households. To meet the evolving housing needs of our community, the Fund's focus area has expanded effective July 1, 2016 to support programs dedicated to enhancing rental opportunities for low-income households within the City of Knoxville as well.  

General Eligibility

  • Applicants may be nonprofit, governmental, and in some cases for-profit entities engaged in affordable housing activities within the City of Knoxville, though grants for renter-occupied housing programs are limited to nonprofit and governmental entities at this time.
  • Awards are NOT made to individuals.
  • Applicant organizations must be operated and organized so as to not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, familial status, sexual orientation, age, disability, or covered veteran status as identified in East Tennessee Foundation’s Diversity and Non-Discrimination Policy.

Eligible Activities

The Fund is designed to accept applications for a wide variety of projects that will result in increased housing opportunities for low-income households within the City of Knoxville.  Fundable activities are grouped into two categories and include but are not limited to:
New Construction and Major Rehabs
  • New construction or major rehabilitation of single family homes
  • Condominium or cooperative housing development 
  • Pre-development expenses including architectural, engineering, and consulting services
  • Interest rate write-down assistance  
Stabilization, Education, and Assistance Programs
  • Down payment assistance for home purchase
  • Minor home repair (including roof repair/replacement)
  • Homeownership counseling
  • Homebuyer education
  • Foreclosure prevention

Eligible Forms of Assistance from the Fund

Funds may be awarded in the form of secured loans or lines of credit, forgivable loans, grants or any combination thereof, though renter-occupied housing programs are limited to grant funding only at this time.

Definition of Low-Income Households

“Low income” for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund is defined as “qualified persons or families who lack the amount of income which is necessary, as determined by the Fund Advisory Board, to enable them without low interest financial assistance, to live in decent, safe and affordable dwellings without overcrowding.”  The Advisory Board has adopted the income guidelines of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HOME Program as the relevant income limits for projects funded by the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Rental programs must serve client households meeting the definition of "Very Low-income" or 50% area median income (AMI). Homeownership programs must serve residents who meet the "Low-income" or 80% AMI threshold for Knoxville. The HUD income limits are updated from time to time. The most current limits can be found here:  https://www.hudexchange.info/manage-a-program/home-income-limits/.

Application Process 

Applications must be submitted via the Foundation’s online grants management system.  We encourage applicants to read instructions about applying online before connecting to the online application.  

How to Apply

Application Deadline

Applications to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund are reviewed by the Advisory Board at their biannual spring and fall meetings. To be considered, applications are due by March 1st and August 1st, respectively.  Awards are subject to availability of funds.

If an unforeseen housing need arises outside of the two application windows, please contact Jeanne Campbell at jcampbell@etf.org to discuss the possibility of an unscheduled application review.

Award Terms

Awards are generally for one-year terms, but other terms will be considered if needed for the success of the project.

Evaluation Criteria

Selection of projects for funding will be competitive.  Among the factors considered will be how well the proposed project meets the following standards:
  • It clearly meets an unmet need in the community's affordable housing system.
  • It leads to or makes homeownership opportunities more available to, or improves rental housing stock for, low-income households.
  • It documents the applicant's managerial, technical, and financial ability to bring  the project to a successful conclusion.
  • It uses Trust Fund monies to leverage the maximum amount of other resources. 
  • It keeps production costs to a minimum.
  • It is innovative and makes creative uses of resources.
  • It incorporates the neighborhood or community in project planning and contributes to neighborhood livability.
  • It designs long-term affordability, quality, and ease of maintenance into each housing opportunity. 
  • It conforms to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings if developing within a historic district or to standards of an approved historic overlay district.

For more information

Please direct your questions to:    
Jeanne Campbell
Financial & Administrative Officer
East Tennessee Foundation
520 W. Summit Hill Drive
, Suite 1101
Knoxville, TN  37902
Telephone: (865)524-1223 or toll-free (877)534-1223


Thank you for your interest in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.