Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet

Community Investing Groups Investing Millions Of Dollars In Katrina-torn Gulf Region, More Investors Urged To Join Effort
August 29 , 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C. In the year since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and much of the rest of the Gulf Coast region, leading U.S. community investing organizations have focused millions of dollars in investments and loans in post-hurricane rebuilding efforts as affordable housing, getting minority-owned businesses on their feet, and general reconstruction planning. These community investing groups are featured in the online Community Investing Center (http://www.communityinvest.org), which is a joint project of the Social Investment Forum Foundation and Co-op America. 

Shared Interest Executive Director Donna Katzin, who also serves as chair of the Community Investing Program of the Social Investment Forum and Co-op America, said: "People need to understand that we can still put their investments to work rebuilding areas that are still devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Community development financial institutions (CDFIs) offer investment vehicles that are helping displaced and low-income people in these regions purchase homes, start or restart businesses, and revitalize their communities."

"Investing in CDFIs has resulted in an unprecedented outpouring of community investing support for the areas in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi devastated by Hurricane Katrina,” said Joe Black, senior vice president of the Southern Financial Partners/Southern Bancorp.).  “The tremendous potential of community investing institutions to channel a direct and powerful investment response to the hurricane crisis continues to empower and lift up citizens in the region. I encourage everyone to join the growing number of socially responsible investors making a difference in the Gulf region.  If you want to make a difference in the life of real people who need your help, this is a great way to do it.”

Community investing directs investor money into rebuilding low-income areas underserved by traditional financial institutions. In the US and around the world, CDFIs provide loans and other financial services to people in need who may otherwise not be able to access them due to insufficient income or lack of credit. The loans that CDFIs make help low- and middle-income people buy a home, send a child to college, start a small business, or provide vital community services like child care. CDFIs guarantee the success of their loans by providing education, mentoring, and technical assistance to borrowers. The assistance of CDFIs was and continues to be critical for the low-income people hardest hit by Katrina. Because their mission is to help rebuild low- and middle-income areas, CDFIs had the infrastructure and relationships in place to offer immediate assistance with recovery efforts.

The following organizations are members of the Social Investment Forum and are involved in community investing in the Gulf Coast Region in various ways, as is detailed below:

  • Access Capital Strategies, LLC, Boston, MA.  Access Capital Strategies Community Investment Fund (ACSCIF) only invests in fixed income investments that are guaranteed by U.S. Government agencies, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or have AAA credit enhancements. The Fund provides competitive, risk-weighted, high credit quality taxable returns through a socially oriented investment vehicle that fosters economic development in America’s underserved communities. Unlike other asset backed security funds, this fund can target its investments by income and geographic region allowing investors to pinpoint where their investment makes a positive impact on the community.  Access Capital Strategies, LLC ("Access Capital") became involved in the Katrina recovery process in the Gulf Coast region through its long association with Liberty Bank and Trust ("Liberty"). Liberty, prominently profiled in a series of articles in the NY Times, is the largest African-American bank in the region and was the dominant, major home mortgage and small business lender in the Ninth Ward and East New Orleans.  These areas were among the most devastated by Katrina. Access is channeling investments to Liberty Bank through insured certificates of deposit. They have set a goal of raising $40 million in deposits for Liberty.
  • The Calvert Social Investment Foundation (Calvert Foundation),  Bethesda, MD.  The Calvert Social Investment Foundation (Calvert Foundation) is a professionally managed facility through which individuals and institutions invest in low-income communities and families, providing affordable loan capital that helps individuals to lift themselves out of poverty. Calvert Foundation currently has assets of more than $128 million -- comprised of more than $100+ million in senior investment from 2,200+ individual and institutional investors, and $12+ million in subordinate investments, equity and loan loss reserves. Calvert Foundation manages an $83 million community investment portfolio that invests in 200 partners across the US and around the globe.  Calvert Foundation launched an ongoing and deep commitment to channel investor capital to the affected regions. Calvert Community Investors can channel their investment capital to help rebuild communities devastated by the storm activity. Investors need only write "Hurricane Recovery" on their Community Investment Note application or contribution form, and the funds will be targeted to this designation. Capital will be used to rebuild affordable homes, finance community facilities and initiatives to support critical recovery and redevelopment. In the past year, Calvert Foundation has deployed $1 million in investor capital on the ground in the Gulf Coast region, with partners who are helping to rebuild daycare centers, homes, businesses and eldercare facilities in the region. Investment dollars will continue to be placed with a broad range of private and public efforts at work in southern coastal regions of the United States over the coming months and years. For more information, go to http://www.calvertfoundation.org/individual/investment/investmentnotes-gcri.html.
  • Enterprise Corporation of the Delta/HOPE Community Credit Union , Jackson, MS.  ECD/HOPE is helping rebuild lives, businesses and communities in areas affected by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina by providing an array of products and services to individuals, businesses and nonprofits in Federal Emergency Management Agency designated assistance areas, including: Business Recovery Loans, Nonprofit Recovery Loans, and Consumer Recovery Products and Services.  ECD/HOPE has worked to strengthen economically distressed rural, minority and low-wealth people and communities of the Gulf region for over eleven years.  Immediately after Hurricane Katrina, ECD/HOPE began receiving offers of assistance from concerned individuals and organizations across the nation.  In response, ECD created a fund to route money to organizations on the front lines of addressing immediate relief needs such as food, clothing and shelter, often for people who were falling through the cracks of larger relief efforts.  To date, ECD has routed approximately $500,000 to faith- and community-based organizations working directly with low-wealth people affected by the hurricanes in Mississippi and Louisiana. HOPE offers a Hurricane Relief Certificate of Deposit (CD) to support its efforts to provide low-interest loans, technical assistance, and flexible financing terms to help low-income individuals and families rebuild their homes, businesses, and lives in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Investors can purchase a Hurricane Relief CD for 24-, 36-, or 60-month term at an interest rate of 0.1 or 0.2 percent (investor choice). The minimum investment is $1,000.  ECD/HOPE continues to expand the deployment of its consumer, mortgage and business products and services in order to foster equitable development for low-wealth people and communities in the Gulf region.
  • Jewish Funds for Justice, Philadelphia, PA.  The Jewish FundS for Justice (JFSJ) is a public foundation established through the merger of The Shefa Fund and Jewish Fund for Justice. After nearly two decades of achievements as allies in anti-poverty and social justice work, the organizations joined together in 2006 with a shared commitment to build a powerful Jewish justice movement.  In September of 2005, JFSJ launched the Hurricane Katrina Fund to focus the resources and attention of the Jewish community on those with little income or influence who were disproportionately affected by the disaster. JFSJ’s Katrina Fund makes strategic loans and grants for both community development and community organizing, focusing on the Delta's low and moderate-income communities that have been disproportionately affected by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. JFSJ knows that it will take years to rebuild these devastated communities and seeks to make sure that the region’s poor and working-class residents, especially immigrants and people of color, will have a place and voice in these efforts.
  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), New York City.  Since 1980, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) has provided grants, loans and equity investments to non profit community development organizations for neighborhood redevelopment throughout the nation for affordable housing, retail and community facilities, and charter schools.  To date, LISC has provided over $7.1 billion in cumulative financing leveraging an $16.7 billion, which has helped produce 196,000 homes and apartments and 27 million square feet of retail and community space. LISC is raising grant, loan and equity resources necessary to finance new and rehabilitated homes, stimulate economic development, and restore the community infrastructure so desperately needed in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.  Their respective tax credit syndication arm, the National Equity Fund, is establishing a special equity fund earmarked for Hurricane Katrina redevelopment efforts.  In addition, LISC is raising funds to provide capacity building and predevelopment grants and low cost loans to community development partners in the region.  Through LISC local and national offices, they are providing technical assistance and expertise to build the capacity of local, community-based organizations.  LISC’s Affordable Housing Preservation Initiative, Housing Authority Resource Center (HARC), Vacant Properties Initiative, Mid South Delta and Rural programs are just some of the national resources being brought to bear on this effort.  In addition, they are working on a policy level to advocate for federal funding and tax credits designated for local community redevelopment in the area. The results to date are $32 million in grants, loans and equity invested, leading to 370 homes repaired, 520 homes in development, and 1,000 evacuee families assisted.

The following organizations also have contributed to community development in the Gulf Coast Region during the last year.  For more information please visit http://www.communityinvest.org.

  • NCB Development Corporation (NCBDC), Washington, D.C.
  • Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF), New York , New York City.
  • RSF, San Francisco, CA.
  • Southern Bancorp, Arkadelphia, Arkansas.


ABOUT THE COMMUNITY INVESTING PROGRAM

The Social Investment Forum Foundation and Co-op America started the Community Investing Program in 2001 to help spur investment into the community investing field, especially from socially responsible investors. The Program works with institutional and individual investors on overcoming the barriers they face to community investing and educating them about their options. The Social Investment Forum Foundation is a national nonprofit organization providing research and educational programs on socially responsible investing. Co-op America is a national nonprofit organization founded in 1982 that provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses and individuals to address today's social and environmental problems. The program's Web site is http://www.communityinvest.org.

CONTACT:  Prianjali Mascarenhas, (202) 872-5335 or prianjali@socialinvest.org.

Return to Newsroom »

See more Press Releases »

MEDIA INQUIRIES

Please contact Todd Larsen by email
or by phone at 202-872-5307.