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Article Archives: Louisiana

Foreclosed Homes Become a New Opportunity for Louisiana's First-Time Home Buyers
Macon Ridge Community Development Corporation is helping low-income persons achieve homeownership through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 502 Direct Loan Program. From its base in Ferriday, Louisiana, Macon Ridge relies on the Department of Agriculture program to increase the availability and accessibility of affordable housing in northeastern and central Louisiana. The program allows Macon Ridge to buy foreclosed properties and, after rehabilitation, to make the homes available for purchase by low-income home buyers. Currently, Macon Ridge makes 25 to 30 single-family units available annually for less than it would cost to build new homes. As foreclosed properties become more available, Macon Ridge hopes to expand its acquisition and rehabilitation work across the state. To do this, MRCDC needs banks to provide loans for acquisition and rehabilitation of property. In return, banks get new opportunities to return real estate owned (REO) properties to productive use.

For more information, contact Buddy Spillers at (318) 757-2361 or bspillersmrcdc@bellsouth.net.
[Community Developments Newsletter, Fall 2009]

Louisiana Initiative Promotes Adult Literacy
Adult illiteracy continues to be an urgent and growing problem in America. To help combat the issue in southeast Louisiana, the Volunteer Instructors Teaching Adults, Inc., (VITA) is actively working to help adult learners develop the literacy skills needed to further their education and to reach their full potential. As a nonprofit adult literacy agency, VITA has provided one-to-one and small group literacy instructions since 1982, serving Lafayette, St. Landry, Iberia, Vermilion, and St. Martin Parishes. VITA offers several programs, each designed to provide educational services for individuals 17 years of age and older with less than a high school education who desire to improve their reading skills or English proficiency. In addition to improving basic educational skills, VITA programs incorporate survival and life skills, including promoting financial independence and self sufficiency.

VITA also maintains technology and resource centers fully equipped with computer hardware and software for instructions in basic reading skills development related to the attainment of workplace foundation skills. In addition, VITA recruits bank employees to serve as instructors in the computer lab and teach financial literacy mini-courses on such topics as "How to Open a Bank Account," and "Checking vs. Money Orders." They also provide counseling on home mortgages, investments, and auto loans.

VITA is seeking to expand its partnerships with financial institutions by securing volunteer instructors and funding to support its ongoing programs. Bank employees who serve as volunteer tutors or instructors enable VITA to reach more adults and to devote its limited resources to other agency needs. For more information on the work of Volunteer Instructors Teaching Adults, Inc., and its core programs, go to its Web site.
[Community Developments Investments, Spring 2009]

Small Loans, Big Returns
Ways to Work (WtW) is a nonprofit, community development financial institution that helps lower-income people. WtW is designed to help borrowers attain financial independence and advance economically by having money to purchase dependable used cars to get to work or school. Since 1996, WtW has originated nearly 12,000 loans for more than $31 million and the average auto loan amounts to an average $3,400. Results of a 2006 WtW evaluation indicate that borrowers reported an average increase of 41 percent in their take-home pay. In addition, 67 percent of WtW borrowers report that they have used conventional financial services subsequent to receiving their WtW loans.

Headquartered in Milwaukee, WtW makes its loans from 43 offices in 21 states: California, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

WtW offices are located in social service agencies affiliated with the Alliance of Children and Families (ACF). ACF agencies screen and provide financial education to borrowers and service the loans. WtW local offices provide financial education to more than three persons for every individual who receives a loan. Investors in WtW include several national foundations, the Community Development Financial Institution Fund of the U.S. Treasury Department, local United Way offices, and financial institutions. Banks can be involved by investing in the national WtW loan fund, by referring to local WtW offices prospective borrowers who do not meet conventional credit criteria, by participating in local WtW loan committees, and by providing grants and in-kind donations to WtW.

For more information, contact President Jeff Faulkner at (414) 359-1448 ext. 2, e-mail him, or visit his Web site.
[Community Developments Investments, Fall 2008]

An Investment Opportunity in Northwest Louisiana
The newly created $40 million Northwest Louisiana Community Development Fund I was established to finance local real estate projects to help revitalize low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities across Northwest Louisiana. The fund currently has more than $11 million in capital commitments. The fund's sponsor, the Strategic Action Council, was created to enhance the capacity of the region to compete in today's global, technology-driven economy.

JPMorgan Chase is the lead investor with family and national foundations, both national and community banks, and institutional investors, such as pension funds and university endowments joining the fund.

The fund seeks to deliver market rate returns to investors and to create jobs, income, and community revitalization for LMI residents in a 10-parish region (Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, DeSoto, Lincoln, Natchitoches, Red River, Sabine, and Webster). This region represents emerging markets with substantial potential to contribute to the growth of Northwest Louisiana. Initial investments are expected in summer 2008, based on a pipeline of projects including mixed-income, mixed-use, workforce housing, and commercial joint ventures with developers and builders in the communities.

For more information, contact Karen Kasteel, Managing Director for the Kennedy Wilson Fund Management Group, at (310) 877-3414 or e-mail her; or contact J. B. Beaird, Manager/CEO at Beaird Operating Companies (the Local Investor Group), at (318) 221-8276 or e-mail him.
[Community Developments Investments, Fall 2008]

Enterprise Corporation of the Delta/HOPE Community Credit Union Offers Opportunity to Help Rebuild
Enterprise Corporation of the Delta/Hope Community Credit Union (ECD/HOPE) is a partner for banks seeking to provide assistance in communities affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In the months since the hurricanes, cleanup and relief efforts continue, but increasingly the focus is shifting to rebuilding and planning for recovery of the affected areas. Tens of thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed or heavily damaged, displacing families, and disrupting lives. Banks can play a large and vital role in the rebuilding process.

ECD/HOPE can bring proven affordable housing, small business lending, and community development expertise to the victims of the hurricanes, as well as, participating financial institutions. ECD/HOPE is headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi, with offices throughout Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. ECD/HOPE is a nonprofit certified community development financial institution working to strengthen communities, build assets, and improve lives in economically distressed areas of the mid-South. It does this by providing financial and technical assistance to firms, entrepreneurs, homeowners and community development projects, and by forging strategic partnerships across the public, private sectors, and banks. Since its founding in 1994, ECD/HOPE has generated more than $200 million in financing and assisted more than 13,000 people in economically-distressed communities in the region.

For more information on investment and lending opportunities and how your bank can partner with ECD/HOPE, contact Bill Bynum, chief executive officer, at (601) 944-1100.
[Published in News from the Districts, Community Developments Investments, Spring 2006]

New Statewide Individual Development Account (IDA) Programs
The IDA Collaborative of Louisiana received a contract through the Louisiana Department of Social Services and is implementing a statewide IDA program. The IDA Collaborative is seeking bank partners to provide savings accounts, support and technical assistance.

For more information, please call Lina Alfieri Stern, Program Administrator, at (504) 865-5455.
[Published in News from the Districts, Community Developments, Fall 2002]