Truist continues its support of the Westside with $10 million investment
By Maria Saporta
The Westside Future Fund will receive a $10 million equity investment from Truist (the bank formed out of the merger between SunTrust and BB&T) to go towards the development of affordable housing.
It is part of Truist’s commitment to Atlanta to invest $300 million over the next three years – doubling SunTrust’s annual investment in the community.
“We’ve been involved with the Westside Future Fund from the very beginning,” said Jenna Kelly, who is Truist’s North Georgia regional president. “We’ve been asking how we can continue to support the effort to revitalize these neighborhoods.”
The Westside Future Fund actually began in 2015 as an initiative of the Atlanta Committee for Progress when SunTrust CEO Bill Rogers was serving as its chair.
A year ago, SunTrust also made a $5 million grant to the Westside Future Fund, including $3 million to provide philanthropic funds to develop affordable housing.
“We are so grateful for the support from Truist,” said John Ahmann, WFF’s president and CEO. “They have been engaged and very supportive across our multiple impact strategies. Their continued support enables us to achieve our vision of creating a community that Dr. King would be proud to call home.”
The Westside neighborhoods that WFF has identified – English Avenue, Vine City, Ashview Heights, Atlanta University Center and Just Us – represent the areas of greatest need. WFF estimates that among nearly 1,600 households within this footprint, half of the residents earn less than $20,000 a year. Such depressed earnings make it virtually impossible to afford quality housing.
Ahmann said the WFF Real Estate Investment Fund goes toward projects that will add to the availability of more affordable housing. Some of the investments have gone toward the Herndon Place development, the Quest Community Center and the Villas at the Dome, a 55-unit apartment complex that WFF acquired in 2018.
“Thanks to SunTrust, we will be able to do more of that kind of work,” Ahmann said.
Kelly said the bank’s WFF investment was made through the Truist Community Capital, which is part of its commercial real estate area. It actually was the first financial institution to put money in the WFF investment fund.
Now Kelly said Truist will be looking to make similar investments in other communities.
“We want to support Atlanta broadly – not just on the Westside,” she said. “We want to work with other nonprofits. Our hope is that there will be more investments like this in Atlanta.”