The East Baton Rouge Mortgage Finance Authority has formally rebranded itself as the Capital Area Finance Authority and expanded its mission to include a larger geographic area and a broader scope of services.
Since 1974, the mortgage finance authority was concerned with helping low- to moderate-income East Baton Rouge Parish residents buy homes. CAFA will now help with homebuying in the eight parishes surrounding Baton Rouge and will help with financing a broad range of public projects, including hospitals, schools, sewer systems, industrial facilities, civic buildings, ports, highways and prisons.
Mike Airhart, executive director of CAFA, said the new mission allows the agency to help developers and elected officials with creative financing for necessary public developments. “We want you to consider this your finance authority,” Airhart said during a short ceremony at the CAFA offices Thursday. “We stand ready to assist each town, each city, each parish.”
The organization can serve as a conduit issuer, tapping the secondary financial markets. “If our elected leaders decided to do a loop around Baton Rouge, we could underwrite the feasibility study to show that there would be the cash flow for a toll road,” Airhart said.
Mayor-President Kip Holden said the change in mission shows that CAFA wanted to help more people than it previously could. “They saw so many areas where they could fill in the gaps and make us all united,” Holden said.
Adam Knapp, president and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, said the change in CAFA’s mission and name is part of the growing trend locally toward regionalism.
“Not only is this a market opportunity for the organization but also an opportunity to advance economic and community development across the entire region,” Knapp said.
CAFA already has stepped in as an equity partner for The Palms at Juban Lakes, a $22.2 million apartment complex that is being built in Denham Springs.
“We’re looking for opportunities to work on real estate projects,” Airhart said.
Since 1979, the authority has issued $1.3 billion in single-family revenue bonds, which helped more than 16,000 East Baton Rouge families buy homes.