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April 10, 2023

Affordable housing for BIPOC communities is the focus of a KeyBank Foundation grant

4 people with oversize check Courtesy / KeyBank From left: Sarah Brooks, branch manager, KeyBank; Liza Fleming-Ives, executive director, Genesis Fund; Tony DiSotto, Maine market president, KeyBank; Brigitte Ritchie, regional corporate responsibility officer, KeyBank.

A three-year, $300,000 grant will go toward the creation of BIPOC-led affordable housing solutions and other community projects.

The Genesis Community Loan Fund in Brunswick received the grant from the KeyBank Foundation.

It’s expected the money will enable Genesis to share expert training and guidance for BIPOC-led (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) organizations and entrepreneurs. KeyBank’s investment will be targeted toward southern Maine.

Genesis staff will provide free professional assistance on project planning, financing and development from start to finish. Based on the scope of the outreach, the goal is to create at least 120 new units of affordable housing.

“In partnership with these organizations and community leaders, Genesis can help turn community-based ideas into financed projects that create homes and services for individuals and families,” Liza Fleming-Ives, executive director of the Genesis Fund, said in a news release.

To address Maine’s affordable housing crisis, the Genesis Fund has been expanding its outreach to organizations and community developers statewide to help them access resources and navigate complex community development processes. Under a contract with MaineHousing, Genesis is helping rural communities become ready to pursue project funding. 

“I’m delighted that Genesis will have additional resources for this outreach and assistance to organizations and individuals who know best what their communities need,” said Genesis board member Shima Kabirigi, director of the Immigrant-Led Organizations Fund of Maine Initiatives. "Their lived experience and expertise enable them to connect with and advocate for individuals and families in their communities who will benefit from housing that is accessible and affordable.”

The Genesis Fund is a nonprofit community development financial institution with a 30-year history of delivering innovative financing and expert assistance to create affordable housing and vital community facilities. 

Community development financial institutions are mission-driven, community-based financial institutions that often make investments — through loans, venture capital, tax credits and other financial services — that make a positive social and economic impact. Their financial products and services are targeted at people and communities underserved by conventional financial institutions, particularly in low-income communities. CDFIs and conventional funding institutions are considered complementary, not competitive. 

Since its founding, Genesis has made more than $80 million in loans and supported some 400 projects. Its financing and assistance have helped borrowers leverage another $430 million to create and preserve affordable rental housing, build affordable homeownership opportunities, and expand capacity for community services such as food pantries, child care centers, and health clinics.

“Guidance from the Genesis Fund can assist BIPOC-led organizations and entrepreneurs to obtain public funding and programs they’ve had difficulty accessing in the past,” said KeyBank’s Maine Market President Tony DiSotto. “In turn, these organizations can develop affordable homes for residents.”

KeyBank’s grant is made under Key’s National Community Benefits Plan, which has delivered more than $29 billion in lending and investments across Key’s national footprint supporting affordable housing and community development projects, home and small business lending in low- and-moderate income communities, and philanthropic efforts targeted toward education, workforce development, and safe, vital neighborhoods.

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