Home is Home: Pinnacle Affordable Housing Program

A group of people stand together in front of a new construction house in High Point, NC.

First-time homeowner, Deborah McBee stands in the front yard of her house, surrounded by a bank chairman, a developer, a real estate agent, and a bank community partnership manager. Before 2020, Mrs. McBee had never owned a home and didn’t think she ever would.  

“I’ve been through a lot,” she admits wryly, wearing the teal scrubs she dons for her job as a home health aide. “But I feel highly favored.”  

The unlikely group all nod together, sharing smiles and questions, asking Mrs. McBee about her family, her daughter, and her job.  

“She’s kept the faith,” says Caroline McKinley, real estate broker and owner of Triad Lifestyle Realty. 

“I never thought I’d be standing here,” Mrs. McBee admits, surveying the group. The statement is multi-faceted. Mrs. McBee admits she never expected to be standing on property she owned with people who don’t all look like her or share her background. In many ways, Mrs. McBee didn’t even expect to be alive after fighting a battle with addiction. Her daughter, her family, her church, and her pastor all rallied behind her to support her in her journey of healing. But another unexpected group also served Mrs. McBee: Pinnacle Financial Partners.  

A first-time homeowner, Deborah McBee hugs a woman from Pinnacle Financial Partners as part of the Affordable Housing Program in High Point, NC.

“You’re why we do what we do,” says Kim Graham, the Community Development Manager at Pinnacle Financial Partners. She hugs Mrs. McBee tightly.  

When people think of banks, they often think of money. But when it comes to PFP, many people in High Point, including Mrs. McBee, now think: “community.”  

Through their one-of-a-kind Affordable Housing Program, Pinnacle is changing the landscape of High Point and the opportunities for first-time homeowners. The program’s goal is to revitalize the Core City area, through purchasing blighted properties, as well as foreclosed or vacant land plots at market value. They build sustainable houses on the properties and sell them to qualifying home buyers at cost. They collect no profit on the homes, and instead, take every penny earned from the program to turn around and invest in new properties, more homes, and more families.  

With 25 homes built and filled, Pinnacle has no shortage of stories like Mrs. McBee’s of thrilled, first-time homeowners thanks to the Affordable Housing Program. From a woman who needed a handicap accessible home, to a UNCG graduate relocating from Philadelphia, to a single mom who for the first time knows what she will pass down to her kids – the Pinnacle homes are providing more than shelter; they’re providing hope. 

A group of professionals from Pinnacle Financial Partners stands in front of the homes as part of their Affordable Housing Program in High Point, NC.

So what is the Affordable Housing Program?

“Communities either die or they thrive and they grow,” explains Rick Callicutt, former CEO of BNC Bancorp and Bank of North Carolina. Rick became chairman of the Carolinas and Virginia region of Pinnacle Financial Partners, after PFP acquired the Bank of North Carolina in 2017. But Rick’s vision and commitment to invest in the city of High Point originated back in 2015.  

“Unfortunately, a good segment of High Point was dying, and the vast majority of the ownership in these areas and on these streets was becoming landlord ownership,” says Rick. He understands that without a community, without people, banks and other businesses close their doors.  

That’s how the idea of the Affordable Housing Program got its start. The program started with a $5 million investment from the Bank of North Carolina to build affordable housing made available to qualifying low-to-moderate-income families. The program was so successful in its first years that cities like Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Thomasville, Lexington, Mooresville, and Charleston have all sought to follow High Point's example. When the Bank of North Carolina was acquired by PFP, the team was adamant about continuing their commitment to the Affordable Housing Program.  

“It only makes sense for somebody to step in and step up and try to take everybody with us,” Rick explains. "We want to do what we can to create some stabilization in these neighborhoods.”  

Closing in on their 25th house built since 2015, and with the goal to build 15 more in 2022, the Affordable Housing Program is transforming both physical properties and lives within the city. With representatives from banking, real estate, and contracting and development industries, there isn’t one step of the house building, buying, and financing process that gets missed.  

It starts with Pinnacle Bank consultant and developer, Mark Walsh. Mark, who worked as special assets consultant for Pinnacle, works closely with the Guilford County Tax Office, the City of High Point, and realtors to find vacant or foreclosed properties where Pinnacle can bid for land. After Mark finds a property, and Pinnacle purchases the land at a competitive market rate, he begins to get to work on the building side.  

Mark, a native High Pointer who has sat on the Planning & Zoning Committee for the City of High Point for 23 years, remembers playing ball in some of the neighborhoods where houses are now being built by Pinnacle Bank.  

“It’s the most gratifying thing I've ever done,” Mark says, when he thinks about his work on the Affordable Housing Program. The homes that Mark and his team build are built for sustainability. As new construction projects, they are built with excellence, using easy-to-care-for materials so that a first-time homeowner won’t have to invest in much maintenance in the first several years of ownership.  

After a property is built, Pinnacle looks to their trusted realtor, Caroline McKinley. For Caroline, who works with plenty of first-time home buyers and also sits on the Habitat for Humanity board, home ownership has always been near and dear to her heart. She also sees firsthand the uphill challenge facing first-time home buyers.  

A new construction home in High Point, NC with white siding and a mailbox.
Ms. McBee shakes hands with developer, Mark Walsh, and Pinnacle Financial Partners Chairman, Rick Callicutt stands beside.
Deborah McBee, Rick Callicutt, and Mark Walsh stand in front of Mrs. McBee's house.

“There really aren’t a lot of avenues for first-time home buyers to get into a home,” she explains. “Especially today because there aren’t any new construction homes under $150,000 in Guilford County.” 

In fact, when it comes to qualified home buyers, the Affordable Housing Program has families relocating from Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and other surrounding cities because of the opportunity that High Point is affording that other cities are not.  

“No one’s duplicated this model,” says Bonnie Murdoch, Administrative Assistant at Pinnacle. She works closely both with Mark and Caroline, as well as home buyers to make sure all paperwork and documentation is in place. “We aren’t building these homes to make a profit.”  

Unlike a contractor who has to make a profit on the resell value of a home, Pinnacle has no aim to make a profit on the home. They sell the homes at cost, ensuring the lowest possible price. And the money Pinnacle spends on purchasing the land and building the home has no interest. 

For Bonnie, who jokes that she “inherited” working on the Affordable Housing Program, the program is all about the people. And it hits closer to home now than before.  

“I'm a single woman raising a grandchild. I own my own house, and I know the stability that gives my grandchild,” she says, noting he can safely play and grow in a consistent environment. She wants to see that happen for all families, parents, and grandparents in High Point.  

To add to that stability, Pinnacle Financial Partners does more than simply build and sell the houses at-cost. Through Pinnacle, the homeowners receive everything from home ownership counseling, budget counseling, credit counseling, and even down payment assistance. And while Pinnacle doesn’t require any homeowner to finance the house through their bank, they do offer a free appliance to anyone who chooses to finance through Pinnacle. 

“We don't want them just to purchase it,” Bonnie says. “We want to keep them in the house.”  

Ms McBee, a home health aide in High Point, NC sits on the couch in her new construction home, a home built through the Pinnacle Financial Partners affordable housing program.


Kim Graham says that the added layers of counseling make sure home ownership is sustainable in the long run for the buyers. 

“It really keeps their payment very affordable because we're looking at sustainability," she explains. For Kim, being part of the Affordable Housing Program feels like honoring a piece of her own story. Born and raised in High Point, Kim grew up in a house on Radford Avenue, the same street where Pinnacle built their very first house.

“I was fortunate enough to grow up in a house that my mother and father purchased and owned,” Kim explains. “I know what home ownership does to stabilize a family... Not everyone is going to purchase a home, but just providing affordable housing impacts a family and their trajectory for generations yet to come.”  

Kim points to a variety of studies that all draw correlations between home ownership and increased quality of living – from health outcomes, to education, to household wealth.  

“I don't know if you could talk about affordable housing without talking about education, healthcare, internet access, and the community as a whole,” she says. "For that income group, home ownership is probably the fastest way for them to build assets... When you stabilize a home, everything else falls in place.”  


“I don't know if you could talk about affordable housing without talking about education, healthcare, internet access, and the community as a whole. For that income group, home ownership is probably the fastest way for them to build assets... When you stabilize a home, everything else falls in place.”

Kim Graham, Community Development Manager for Pinnacle Financial Partners

A row of new construction houses in High Point, NC stand as part of the Pinnacle FInancial Partners program.
Houses built by the Pinnacle Financial Partners Affordable Housing Program

And the long-term benefits aren’t just for one party involved, but for all.  

On top of the sustainability of the Affordable Housing Program for the homeowners, the houses built actually increase the City’s tax base. While a foreclosed plot of land collects no taxes, a home on a piece of land drastically increases the tax base. It also raises the value of neighborhoods overall. In most places where Pinnacle builds a house, other owners, renters, and landlords are inspired to fix up their houses as well. The challenged neighborhoods as Caroline describes, all get more attention thanks to the beautiful new constructions built by Pinnacle. 

That’s why Rick says that Pinnacle aims to invest in these sorts of long-term solutions beyond the one-off sponsorship type events.  

“Sooner or later, someone has to write a check,” Rick says matter-of-factly. “But this is an investment in the community. Once I give somebody money, it’s out the door. I can’t measure the value to our company, to our associates, or to our community... But here, I know where this money went. And every month that homeowner makes a payment, we can go somewhere else and do it all again.” 

And while the program is unusual – a not-for-profit endeavor set up and managed by a for-profit entity – all members of the team agree, it’s simply the right thing to do.  

“We don’t make more money,” Bonnie says of the program team. “To care about this program, you have to care about people too... These people are teachers. They're nurses. They could be our children's teachers, and we're making their lives more stable.” 

“It's the right thing to do it as a corporate citizen,” says Kim. “It’s ingrained in our mission.” 

She quotes Rick, saying:  

In 30 years from now, when none of us are here, those houses will still be there. And people will always think about Pinnacle and our impact,” she says. “That’s something that really motivates me: to know in the city that helped raise me, I’ll leave a legacy that will last forever.”  

And the legacy that lasts isn’t just a structure, a building, or a physical address. It’s that indescribable connection. It’s that generational change. It’s that sense of belonging, safety, and dignity. It’s what Pinnacle is giving to citizens right here in High Point: a place to call home. Mark sums it up simply and best:  

“Home is home, no matter where you go.” 

A group of professionals from Pinnacle Financial Partners stands in front of the homes as part of their Affordable Housing Program in High Point, NC.
(From L to R): Kim Graham, Rick Callicutt, Deborah McBee, Mark Walsh, and Caroline McKinley.

Discover our High Points, 

The HPD Team

Photography by Sarah Martinez | Kingdom Work Creative

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