International

Relief funds help CDFIs offer affordable financing

July 27, 2021
Community First Fund_Tarik Casteel 2

Throughout the United States, more than 1,000 community development financial institutions (CDFIs) bring affordable financing and economic opportunity to low-income communities and individuals who lack access to traditional financing. The Sisters of Mercy, along with other religious communities, were among the early supporters of CDFIs in the 1980s and continue to invest in them today. 

In June, CDFIs received a boost when the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced $1.25 billion in grants to 863 CDFIs as part of a COVID relief package. With the economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for this type of financing has only grown, and CDFIs directed $34 billion in federal forgivable loans to thousands of small businesses owned by women, people of color and rural entrepreneurs.

Mercy Partnership investee Community First Fund (CFF), based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is one of the CDFIs whose lending has been instrumental in keeping small businesses afloat during the pandemic. TLC Construction & Renovations grew and succeeded with the help of CFF’s financing products. When the pandemic put several of TLC’s construction projects on hold for months, meaning no income to cover their costs, CFF provided an SBA Paycheck Protection Program loan to help owner Tarik Casteel pay his team until construction projects started back up. 

Click here to read more about the relief funds.