Water Equity Clearinghouse



Fahe is an organization made up of over 50 members that all work in conjunction to uplift rural Appalachia and eliminate persistent poverty. By connecting these 50+ local, regional, and national nonprofit leaders to one another, Fahe can address a variety of issues including local leadership, housing, education, health and social services, and economic opportunity. Fahe also ensures that people and communities in Appalachia have the resources, opportunities, and tools needed to build a better life by offering consulting, loan services, and mortgage lending. Since 1980, Fahe has assisted more than 375,000 Appalachians in finding housing, and has made over $609 million in direct investments – steps that contribute to a much larger financial impact throughout the region.

Efforts to Advance Water Equity

Many households in Appalachia lack access to sewage systems and septic tanks. Homeowners are thus forced to dispose of black and grey water from houses using straight pipes. Straight pipes release wastewater from a home directly into the ground, which can lead to the contamination of local water supplies, the spread of disease in animals, plants, and people, and other environmental harms. Despite the risks, many homeowners cannot afford to install proper septic systems. Fahe and their members step in to connect households with funding that allows them to purchase and install septic tank systems. The organization also works with local communities to develop and expand the existing sewage systems to include outlying neighborhoods.

Fahe is tackling a prominent issue in Appalachian communities; in Kentucky, 31 percent of waterways contain fecal coliform, which indicates a higher risk of pathogens present in the water. Homeowners who want to add water and sewage facilities to their lot can take advantage of the USDA Rural 502 Direct Loan program offered by Fahe’s Mortgage Lending Department, JustChoice Lending (JCL). This loan program is so important to Fahe’s work that in 2016, Fahe and its members traveled to Washington DC to fight against budgets cuts that would have effectively ended the program. Thanks to their work, the loan program was only cut by 30 percent and many families can still benefit from it.