THDA awards challenge grant to Memphis Habitat

Press Release

December 13, 2017 – Habitat of Humanity of Greater Memphis needs your help to unlock a $500,000 grant from the Tennessee Housing Development Agency, and the clock is ticking!

In order to receive the half-million dollar prize, the nonprofit must raise at least $2.5 million toward its 35th anniversary celebration, which will include dozens of home construction and neighborhood beautification projects around the city next year. The deadline to raise the funds and earn the grant is June 28, 2018.

“THDA is issuing a challenge to the people of Memphis to show your love and support for Habitat for Humanity as it celebrates 35 years of serving our great city,” said Kim Brown, native Memphian and chairman of THDA’s Board of Directors. “THDA has already set aside a half-million dollars for this effort, and now it’s up to the people of Memphis to bring it all home for Habitat for Humanity.”

Memphis Habitat plans an extensive construction campaign to celebrate its 35th anniversary in 2018, including 20 new homes for low-income homebuyers in a brand new neighborhood called Cedar Heights, as well as 15 beautification projects and 200 aging-in-place accessibility modifications for seniors. The organization also plans to host two events as part of its anniversary celebration: a forum in April to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Fair Housing Act and a Habitat Family Reunion in the summer.

THDA’s Board of Directors approved $500,000 in the form of a “challenge grant” to Memphis Habitat, meaning the nonprofit must meet specific goals before receiving the funds. Specifically, Memphis Habitat must raise $2.5 million over the next six months, including private donations, corporate gifts, local government contributions, and other sources.

“We have every confidence that the people of Memphis will rise to the challenge and help us secure every dollar that THDA is making available,” said Memphis Habitat President & CEO Dwayne Spencer. “We are tremendously grateful to all the donors and volunteers who have made our work possible for the past 35 years. You’ve never let us down, and we promise that the best is yet to come.”

To announce Memphis Habitat’s 35th anniversary plans and the THDA challenge grant, Spencer and Brown held a joint press conference Wednesday morning in a field on Hays Street where the Cedar Heights neighborhood will be built in fall of 2018.

“Both THDA and Habitat for Humanity share the same mission to strengthen families and communities through homeownership,” said Brown.

This is the second challenge grant issued by THDA to Memphis Habitat in recent years. THDA previously agreed to match the first $1 million raised for Habitat for Humanity’s 2016 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, a prestigious, week-long neighborhood construction effort in Memphis spearheaded by former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn.

“The challenge grant for the Carter Work Project was intended to be a special, one-time thing, but it generated so much excitement that we decided to turn it into an annual program,” said Brown. “This is the first year nonprofits from all across the state have been offered the opportunity to compete for a $500,000 challenge grant, and I’m thrilled to say it was Memphis Habitat that came out on top.”

Since 1983, Memphis Habitat has helped 490 first-time homebuyers secure affordable mortgages and completed rehabilitation and home modification projects in partnership with more than 350 local homeowners, helping them achieve the independence they need to build a better life for themselves and their families. For more information, visit