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N.Y. Coalition CDFIs aiding economy
NEW YORK (6/1/10)--Community development financial institutions (CDFIs), including community development credit unions, continue to provide affordable credit and financial services in the face of tightening credit and state budget cuts. That was the message when more than 100 community development leaders met at the annual New York Coalition of CDFIs Statewide Conference in Albany, May 17-18. Those services to urban and rural communities create jobs, expand affordable housing, and support small businesses in main streets across New York State, said the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, which has staffed and operated the coalition for more than a decade. It coordinated the conference, brought representatives of New York-based CDFIs, political figures, state agencies and major banks to hear about the financial “state of the state,” the landscape for affordable housing development and small-business lending, and the impact of the economic downturn on low- and moderate-income people and communities. State Sen. Brian Foley (D-Long Island), chairman of the State Senate Banking Committee, discussed the key role that CDFIs play in creating jobs and spurring economic recovery. In 2008 alone, New York’s CDFIs had nearly $2 billion in loans outstanding to affordable housing projects, nonprofit facilities and small businesses in the state, Foley pointed out. Foley cited U.S. Treasury Department research, saying “CDFIs are able to leverage state dollars at a ratio of 20 to 1.” The coalition has sought state support for CDFI activities such as loans for affordable housing, small businesses and non-profit and child care facilities, as well as asset- building programs, and financial literacy and entrepreneurship training. In 2007, the New York State CDFI Fund was signed into law. Administered by Empire State Development Corp. (ESDC), the fund provided authority to support community-based lenders beyond other programs currently in place. Coalition Coordinator Melanie Stern, federation senior program officer, stressed that one major goal is to ensure a direct allocation for the New York State CDFI Fund remains in the governor's budget. “CDFIs are experts at leveraging public monies with private funds, and our research has shown that a $15 million investment from the state would create as much as $150 million in direct investment in our communities,” she said. “Our hope is that with adequate support, the New York State CDFI Fund will bring a renewed emphasis for the economic development of individuals and small businesses, complementing ESDC's traditional large-scale economic development projects.” Conference attendees also heard about federal opportunities for funding and support from federation President/CEO, Clifford N. Rosenthal, one of the founders and former chairman of the national CDFI Coalition. “This is new day in Washington,” Rosenthal explained. “We have an administration and a Congress that understand the impact of our institutions and their potential to assist in the economic recovery that our country so desperately needs. In providing our industry with unprecedented levels of funding and support, the president and congressional leaders are recognizing CDFIs as critical to the nation's economic growth and an integral part of the solution to the country's economic woes.”
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