FHLBank Atlanta Announces $1 Million Heirs’ Property Grant Initiative

Staff Report

Wednesday, August 31st, 2022

Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta (FHLBank Atlanta) announced today that it is making $1 million in grant funding available to organizations that submitted pilot initiatives during last year’s Heirs’ Property Prevention and Resolution Funders’ Forum.

The Funders’ Forum took place in Atlanta in December 2021, and was designed to connect potential funders with nonprofits and other entities for the purpose of preventing and addressing the issue of heirs’ property. With FHLBank Atlanta’s new $1 million grant initiative, organizations that presented pilot initiatives during the Funders’ Forum can now apply for up to $100,000 to fund their pilot programs.

Heirs’ property occurs when a real property owner dies without a will that designates a successor owner, or without a recorded deed. It also occurs when property is left to multiple beneficiaries, resulting in a fractured or tangled title that is unmarketable and, if left unresolved, prevents the ability to sell, collateralize, improve, or otherwise transfer the property. Heirs’ property is a barrier to the accumulation of generational wealth, leads to neighborhood blight, and is a pervasive issue that disproportionately impacts racial and ethnic minority, low-wealth, and distressed urban and rural communities.

“FHLBank Atlanta began taking a serious look at the challenges of heirs’ property in 2019,” said FHLBank Atlanta President and CEO, Kirk Malmberg. “The funding we are announcing today represents the next step in the efforts of FHLBank Atlanta, our members, and our community partners to resolve this important issue.”

“This funding will create better awareness and help entities execute local initiatives that will have a scaled-response to the heirs’ property challenge in neighborhoods across the Southeast,” said Arthur Fleming, Senior Vice President and Director of Community Investment Services for FHLBank Atlanta.

The Funders’ Forum created an opportunity for organizations to partner with one another in an effort to establish a supply of capital, human resources, and organizational pilot initiatives aimed at providing solutions to heirs’ property. In all, 84 organizations hailing from 22 states and the District of Columbia presented pilot initiatives to 40 potential funders during the Funders’ Forum.

Frank Fernandez, president and CEO of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta noted that the Foundation was pleased to support the Funders’ Forum and provide a location for the event. “FHLBank Atlanta has taken a leadership role in addressing the issue of heirs’ property and we are encouraged to know that the Bank is providing its own capital to assist organizations devoted to developing solutions to this important issue.”

Representatives from Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Truist, and BankUnited, an FHLBank Atlanta member located in Miami Lakes, Florida, also attended the Funders’ Forum.

“FHLBank Atlanta should be commended for bringing the issue of heirs’ property to the forefront and we’re grateful to be a part of this effort to transform a system that often leads to loss of property, land, and wealth for families of color,” said Eileen Fitzgerald, head of Housing Affordability Philanthropy at Wells Fargo. “In the coming months, we plan to award up to $1.5 million in grant funding to nonprofit housing and legal assistance organizations to help more people and communities keep generational land and property.”

“JPMorgan Chase was happy to help plan for and participate in the Funders’ Forum,” said Carolina Jannicelli, head of the firm’s Racial Equity Commitment. “Heirs’ property is a fundamental obstacle to wealth creation for underserved communities and we applaud FHLBank Atlanta on launching its grant initiative to help resolve and prevent this complex issue.”