Leahy, Sanders, Welch: Vermont Community Lenders Net $1.2 Million In Federal Funds

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) announced Tuesday that two Vermont organizations have received $1.2 million in federal funds from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund.

The CDFI Fund awarded $184 million in grants and loans to 264 community credit unions and loan funds across the country that provide affordable financial products and services in economically distressed areas.

Two Vermont programs received funds through these awards:

·         NeighborWorks of Western Vermont received $500,000
·         Vermont Community Loan Fund Inc. in Montpelier received $700,000

“These awards will advance community based initiatives in Vermont that are focused on alleviating poverty and advancing social justice,” Leahy, Sanders and Welch said in a joint statement.  “Both VCLF and NeighborWorks of Western Vermont have a proven track record of using these federal funds to improve the lives of Vermonters.  Because of these initiatives more Vermonters will have access to safe affordable housing, childcare and small business capital.”

Leahy, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has long been an advocate for the CDFI program.  The program has played an important role in Vermont’s economy by investing in small businesses, families and neighborhoods that would not have access to the capital they need from conventional lenders. 

Established in 1987, VCLF grows business and creates jobs by providing loans, grants, financial consulting and business development services to hundreds of Vermonters.  With this funding, VCLF will use resources to help with the construction or rehabilitation of affordable homes for lower-income Vermonters; offer financing to small businesses and provide resources to child care businesses that will ensure quality care and education for Vermont children.

“The CDFI Fund has again recognized the importance of the Loan Fund’s work to provide all Vermonters with equal opportunity and access to important financial resources,” said VCLF Executive Director Will Belongia.  “We’re so grateful for this latest award which allows us to continue our mission-driven lending that will help grow our state’s economy, and support Vermonters’ financial stability and quality of life, especially for struggling families.”

NeighborWorks of Western Vermont, based in West Rutland, works to strengthen the development of a regional economy by promoting safe, efficient and stable housing, and community projects through education, technical assistance, and financial services.

Ludy Biddle, Executive Director of NeighborWorks of Western Vermont, said:  “This CDFI award will help us make the dream of safe, secure, efficient  homeownership come true for many Vermonters.  For example, we are able to provide down payment assistance to some who don’t have large cash reserves; we are able to lend at affordable rates for health, safety and efficiency improvements when a commercial bank loan might be out of sight, all thanks to the CDFI grant.”

The federal CDFI Program invests in and builds the capacity of community credit unions, banks, loan funds and other financial institutions serving rural and urban communities across the nation that lack adequate access to affordable financial products and services.  Since its inception in 1994, the CDFI Fund has awarded more than $1.96 billion, helping build a nationwide network of CDFIs located in every state, all focused on economically empowering the communities they serve.

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