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July 10, 2014
Finalists for Annual CDFI Awards Announced
    by Robert Kropp

Opportunity Finance Network announces that four community development financial institutions are finalists for $8.25 million in awards provided annually for safe and affordable housing in low-income communities.

The negative impacts of wealth inequality are felt throughout most groups in US society, but nowhere more so than in low-income communities. For years, community development financial institutions (CDFIs) have sought to provide housing and small business opportunities in low- and middle-income communities that are underserved by mainstream financial services.

Since 2007, Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), a national network of CDFIs, has been presenting the Wells Fargo NEXT Awards for Opportunity Finance, which annually provide $8.25 million to up to four CDFIs that have distinguished themselves by their efforts to provide financial services in underserved communities.

OFN announced this week the four finalists for the 2014 NEXT Awards. The Florida Community Loan Fund (FCLF) plans to expand its successful Florida Preservation Fund, which was established by the Florida State Legislature in 2008. The Fund is a “successful, affordable, multi-family rental housing preservation program which focuses on hard-to-serve 5-50 unit properties across Florida,” OFN stated in its announcement.

Home HeadQuarters, which is committed to the revitalization of communities in Central and Upstate New York, was selected for its plans to expand “its unique single-close first mortgage loan product for low-to-moderate income homebuyers in the Greater Syracuse area,” according to OFN.

New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC) was selected for its plan to expand ReStart, the CDFI's response to to the foreclosure crisis. ReStart “acquires pools of underwater mortgages and provides homeowners with principal reductions and one-on-one counseling to protect them from displacement,” NJCC states, and was launched in 2012 with the purchase of 261 troubled mortgages. One hundred twenty-five of the mortgages were in the Newark, NJ, region.

Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), located in California, is a finalist for its plan to expand its Development Solutions initiative and increase the supply of safe, quality affordable housing, especially on tribal lands.

As an indication of the degree of leverage the NEXT Awards provide to CDFIs, RCAC stated in response to OFN's announcement that the award would translate into nearly $75 million in financing activity. In addition to affordable housing, RCAC provides training and capacity building for Native and rural communities throughout the West.


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