In the fall of 1994, concerned citizens from six West Tennessee counties came together to organize a special type of organization called a Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO). The CHDO was formed to address the need for safe and affordable housing in depressed communities. A joint venture with West Tennessee Legal Services provided the resources to obtain a charter and acquire 501 (c) (3) status.

In the fall of 1995, the board of directors was selected and bylaws were established. Technical assistance to the newly organized board of directors on the affordable housing process was provided from the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) of Atlanta, Georgia. Jonah Affordable Housing Organization (JAHO) filed for and received CHDO status in the city of Jackson and in rural West Tennessee outside of Memphis.

In the spring of 1996, JAHO initiated its first rehabilitation project. A proposal was submitted to the City of Jackson Community Development Office to acquire and rehabilitate substandard properties in East Jackson, which is predominately an African American community. JAHO was granted a $75,000 award, a 15% set aside of the City’s HOME entitlement grant.

In January of 1997, JAHO was recommended to be a part of a “Campaign for Productivity for CHDO’s by the regional HUD office director, Virginia Peck. The project is sponsored by HUD and administered by Neighborhood Reinvestment Institute. The staff and one board member have received training through the institute in “Productivity Lab, Affordable Housing, An Effective Board, Creating a High Capacity Pipeline, Advanced Housing Management Production, Retooling Your Fundraising Machine and many other courses that will help build skills and capacity for the organization. The Institute has also provided technical assistance to the CHDO’s from private consultants.

In the summer of 1997, JAHO, with technical assistance from Randy Nelson of Nelson and Thornton Consultants, devised a five-year strategic plan. The first year consisted of an action plan to acquire and rehabilitate substandard properties in East Jackson. On January 9, 1998, the first home was completed and rented to a low-income single mother that has two minor children and cares for two (2) handicapped elderly aunts.

JAHO has provided more than 46 decent and affordable single-family rental houses to low to moderate-income families in following West Tennessee areas:

Jackson – Humboldt – Milan – Bells – Brownsville – Coxville Community