$5.5 Million Awardee
They couldn’t know it at the time, but when the Community Loan Fund made its first loan in 1984, it found its true calling and began transforming a sector of New Hampshire’s economy that was not just underserved but unserved. The loan was made to thirteen families facing eviction from their manufactured housing park in Meredith Center when the park’s owner decided to sell the property to condominium developers. Although the families wanted to buy the park and run it themselves, their loan request was turned down by five banks.
“It seemed really unfair what was happening to them,” says Juliana Eades, the Community Loan Fund’s president since 1984. “We were completely about trying to help those folks keep their homes.” Using financing from the Sisters of Mercy, the fledgling Community Loan Fund provided a loan to help the newly formed Meredith Center Cooperative buy their park. But it soon discovered that Meredith Park was hardly the only manufactured housing community to face the threat of eviction. “We realized that this was happening all over New Hampshire and all over the country,” Eades says. “And so we set out to do something systematic about it.”
That marked the beginning of the Community Loan Fund’s Manufactured Housing Park Program, which offers loans and technical assistance to help residents buy and manage their parks as cooperatives. Since 1984 the program has enabled 93 manufactured housing communities throughout New Hampshire to convert to resident ownership.
And resident ownership is only part of the strategy. Having seen buyers of manufactured homes victimized by archaic and costly financing, the Community Loan Fund launched the Cooperative Home Loan Program in 2002. The program—the first of its kind in the United States—provides affordable fixed-rate mortgage loans for homebuyers in resident-owned communities. The Community Loan Fund will use its Wachovia NEXT Award to expand the program and to demonstrate to a wider audience how mainstream mortgage lending can serve this market.
The Community Loan Fund’s pioneering work over the past 25 years has been driven by a deep knowledge of its market and an approach that is at once pragmatic and visionary. “Because we’re on the ground, we are listening to people worry about things, and then we see that there’s a systematic problem,” Eades says. “So we look at how we can do something practical that helps people solve their problem but also creates a systems change that will mean other low-income people in other places won’t have that same problem later. We look at how we can change the system while being helpful right in the moment.”
$2.75 Million Awardee
By just about anyone’s standards, the Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises (FAHE) could have been considered a highly successful CDFI back in 2004. Founded in 1980 to reduce systemic poverty in Central Appalachia by improving housing and creating economic opportunity, FAHE had established itself as an innovative mortgage lender as well as the leader of a member-based network of more than 40 community agencies dedicated to providing housing solutions to families throughout the region.
The only problem was, as successful as FAHE had become, it wasn’t successful enough. “We looked seriously at the number of people who weren’t well-housed in the region—100,000 households living in substandard housing, another 700,000 in cost-burdened housing. The need was enormous,” says Jim King, FAHE’s CEO. “We were delivering about 2,000 affordable housing units per year and deploying about five million dollars in direct financing. The bottom line was, we had little solutions to very big problems.”
King decided that FAHE’s solutions would have to become bigger, and his first step was to set new goals—bold ones. He resolved that the FAHE membership would quadruple its performance, increasing its production from 2,000 housing units annually to 8,000 in 2015. To accomplish that, it would need to deploy significantly more capital, so other new goals followed: $30 million deployed in 2007, $50 million in 2010, and $104 million in 2012—ambitious targets for an organization that had been on a trajectory to deploy $10 million by 2012.
The next step was to transform the organization’s products and services. Over the next two years, FAHE retooled two of its traditional lines of business, its mortgage program and its commercial lending program for nonprofits, and launched two more, a consulting service for community-based organizations and local governments, and an innovative equity fund to use the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program in Central Appalachia, enabling deals to happen, even in a down economy.
It is already becoming clear that King has not overestimated FAHE’s capabilities. The organization provided $41 million in direct financing last year. Its members also produced 3,800 housing units last year, which means that the organization is already almost halfway to achieving its 2015 target. With the additional capital from the Wachovia NEXT Award, which FAHE will use to build its tax credit fund, King believes that FAHE’s goals are well within reach.
The key to FAHE’s success, King maintains, has been its boldness. “We work in a region where you have to have a can-do attitude and be really, really persistent,” he says. “We’ve got a real mission that we can believe in, and we decided that, rather than to sort of bunt, we would swing all the way, and it seems to have worked for us.”
$25,000 Awardee – Community Impact
Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation (CPCDC), based in Shawnee, Oklahoma was awarded the Community Impact prize for achieving a high volume of community outcomes relative to its peers, designing and implementing an effective impact tracking system, and regularly using their impact data to enhance their programs. CPCDC provides an impressive array of high-impact programs and services, including business loans, credit builder loans, an Individual Development Account (IDA) savings program, and financial literacy counseling. Serving all Native Americans in Oklahoma and Citizen Potawatomi Tribal Members Nationwide, in the past three years CPCDC made 80 business loans totaling nearly $5MM, provided 5,850 hours of business development training, and provided customized business consultations to more than 2,300 Native Americans. In 2007 CPCDC launched a comprehensive Community Impact Tracking System which allows management to track outcomes and client feedback. CPCDC is a high impact lender that has demonstrated that it is a leader in Community Impact.
$25,000 Awardee – Advocacy
The Advocacy award recognizes Newberg, Oregon-based Community and Shelter Assistance Corporation’s (CASA of Oregon) advocacy work on behalf of farm workers and other low-income populations in the state of Oregon. CASA of Oregon’s policy successes include obtaining state tax credits and set asides for farm worker housing in Oregon. More recently, CASA of Oregon turned its advocacy efforts to manufactured housing, establishing a Manufactured Housing Park Conversion Program predicated on the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund model and successfully advocating the state legislature for the inclusion of nonprofit, limited equity cooperatives as owners of manufactured housing parks. It also helped obtain a $10MM set aside in the Oregon Affordable Housing Tax Credits to help these cooperatives finance the purchase of parks. Finally, CASA of Oregon helped bring private sources of capital to the table to take advantage of the tax credits and finance the housing. For excellent work in championing the causes of farm workers and other low-income populations in Oregon, CASA of Oregon received the award for Advocacy.
$25,000 Awardee – Innovation
San Francisco-based Pacific Community Ventures (PCV) received the Innovation award for its work in providing health care access and financial literacy training to business owners and their low/moderate income (LMI) employees, and for providing impact measurement services to other social investors. The first community development venture capital fund in California, PCV has an innovative “360 degree” approach to rebuilding California’s LMI communities that goes well beyond providing financing to stimulate business development. PCV developed a platform for the delivery of financial literacy education to LMI employees of businesses located in and hiring from LMI communities. In 2008, PCV piloted the VidaCard, an innovative, market-based approach to providing California’s uninsured low-income workers with convenient and affordable basic medical care. In 2000, PCV developed InSight, a system that measures the social impact of its investments. In 2005, PCV made InSight available to other social investors and is now providing it to pension funds, fund managers, and foundations to help these investors demonstrate their community impacts. For these creative programs that significantly increase the impact of its financial investments, PCV received the award for Innovation.
$25,000 Awardee – Financing
Headquartered in New York City, Seedco Financial Services, Inc. (Seedco Financial) was selected to receive the Financing award for its post-Hurricanes Katrina and Rita business lending program in Louisiana. Building on its successful emergency loan program in New York City after September 11 and in a number of other emergency lending initiatives, Seedco Financial piloted a $500,000 business lending program in New Orleans which grew rapidly, reaching $8MM in loan originations in only two years. The program has since grown into a $26 MM statewide economic development initiative that includes an innovative and flexible financial product, effective technical assistance provider network, and loan capital from a wide range of public and private sources. Seedco Financial’s ability to attract millions of dollars of loan capital from Federal, state, and local governments, and a consortium of banks and credit unions, was key to its success. For its work in quickly raising an impressive volume of capital and deploying it to businesses in hurricane-affected communities throughout Louisiana, Seedco Financial is a recognized leader in Financing.