MBA CONVERGENCE Partner Profile: Ralph Perrey, Tennessee Housing Development Agency

(One in a recurring series about MBA CONVERGENCE, the Mortgage Bankers Association’s affordable housing initiative.)

Ralph Perrey

Ralph Perrey has been Executive Director of the Tennessee Housing Development Agency, Nashville, Tenn., since 2012. His tenure has seen the agency revamp its mortgage products and down payment assistance program; establish its own loan servicing division; and base THDA staff regionally to better interact with partners across the state. He served previously with Fannie Mae as Senior Business Developer in the company’s Multifamily Mortgage Business division; as a Senior Business Developer with the company’s Public Entity Loan Team; and as Director as Fannie Mae’s Tennessee Community Business Center. Before that, he served five years as an Assistant to former Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist (R).  

MBA NEWSLINK: What is your role in CONVERGENCE and why is it important to you?

RALPH PERREY: Like many people, I found it eye-opening to learn that the rate of homeownership among African Americans is lower today than it was before the passage of the Fair Housing Act. When Steve O’Connor [MBA Senior Vice President for Affordable Housing Initiatives] mentioned that he was working on an idea specifically focused on increasing the number of African American homeowners I was excited about the concept and thought Memphis, Tennessee was the ideal place to pilot such a program.

For CONVERGENCE Memphis, THDA has provided a modest amount of financial support for the startup but, more importantly, we have used our broad range of community contacts to ensure the right people were involved in this initiative from the start including community nonprofits, faith leaders, realtors, lenders, etc.

NEWSLINK: What has been your most meaningful accomplishment or experience since working with CONVERGENCE?

PERREY: I was very pleased and proud of the kickoff event for CONVERGENCE Memphis where a number of senior MBA officials came to town as well as a great turnout among the community leaders of Memphis, which was very encouraging. There was excitement in the room and it was a great way to launch this initiative and lay a solid foundation for the work that we will be putting together moving forward.

NEWSLINK: What CONVERGENCE initiative or project are you most excited for in the future?

PERREY: The efforts and outreach specific to homeownership have a great deal of potential especially for those potential homebuyers with whom we need to work with our partners to regain their trust. Many of these individuals saw family and friends lose their homes to foreclosure during the last economic downturn and they have a negative perception of mortgages and mortgage lenders in general. Reaching those who are ready to purchase a home but simply don’t trust the system to treat them fairly is a big hurdle. Making progress in this area will be key to increasing the African American homeownership rate, not just in Memphis, but across the country.

NEWSLINK: What else would you share with MBA members who want to learn more about CONVERGENCE?

PERREY: There are a number of opportunities for MBA members to be engaged. The great thing about CONVERGENCE is this initiative doesn’t require mortgage bankers to do anything other than what they are good at and that is extending responsible mortgage lending to people who are eligible. Some MBA members may wish to put some additional down payment assistance behind some of their loans and all MBA members are eligible to use THDA’s mortgage products and tap into our down payment assistance to reach customers who may not fit into their typical customer profile. Ultimately, there are opportunities through CONVERGENCE to do an important social good that is also good business with possible market expanding opportunities for lenders.

(An MBANow video featuring Ralph Perrey can be viewed at


CONVERGENCE is driving collective action with lenders, other industry participants and government partners to facilitate new solutions to our nation’s rental and housing affordability challenges. By using a cohesive approach, CONVERGENCE promotes more sustainable, affordable homes for purchase and rental for underserved people and communities, especially minorities and low-to-moderate-income Americans.

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