The U.S. Department of the Treasury has awarded $1.25 billion in COVID-19 relief funds to 863 Community Development Financial institutions (CDFIs) nationwide, including Renaissance Economic Development Corporation (REDC) and AAFE Community Development Fund. It’s an historic investment in CDFIs from the federal government and a long-sought acknowledgement of the crucial role community lenders play in supporting small businesses and immigrant communities.
During a press conference in Washington June 15th led by Vice President Kamala Harris, REDC was among several CDFIs singled out for our commitment to helping devastated small businesses during the pandemic. Lisa Mensah, President and CEO of the Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), introduced the Vice President, saying, “There are countless examples of CDFI staff working around the clock from home to help their communities and customers. In New York City, Renaissance supported immigrant and Asian American-owned businesses whose sales plummeted as COVID-19 cases and racist attacks surged.” [See the full video below.]
Vice President Harris said, “Community lenders understand the value in providing access to capital directly to communities and because they do, they add value to those communities, and by extension to our entire nation, which is why our administration is making a big investment in community lenders and actively working to increase community lending capacity.”
All of us at Renaissance would like to express our gratitude to Vice President Harris and the Biden Administration, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, CDFI Fund Director Jodie Harris and the Opportunity Finance Network. This historic achievement in support of marginalized communities from New York to California would not have been possible without the incredible efforts of so many dedicated CDFIs who advocated tirelessly for all of our communities.
The CDFI Rapid Response Program (CDFI RRP) will provide essential capital to assist underserved communities ravaged by the pandemic. The funding was authorized by the December 2020 Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. While CDFIs played an important role in dispersing federal relief, the Rapid Response Program is the first public sector investment in the CDFI industry.
As OFN noted, there is a need for sustained funding in CDFIs because, “the challenges facing underserved communities require more than a one-time infusion of capital.” But the investment from the federal government will make a major impact in our community and so many others. We are looking forward to working with our nonprofit and government partners to ensure the continued support of underserved communities in the future.
Photo credit: Screenshot from White House Video.