LISC Invests $1.1B in Low-Income Community Revitalization in 2010

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New York--Last year, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation invested an aggregate $1.1 billion in grants, loans and equity to help give new life to low-income communities.

Cornerstone Manor

New York–The Local Initiatives Support Corporation, the largest community development support organization in the United States, closed 2010 with a bang. Last year, which marked the organization’s 30th anniversary, LISC invested an aggregate $1.1 billion in grants, loans and equity to help give new life to low-income communities.

LISC aggregates capital for the redevelopment of neighborhoods, and their capital-culling efforts involve a number of financial tools. For, say, a housing redevelopment project, the organization might provide forgivable grants, syndicated tax credits and, potentially, the actual construction loan. “Our role is to make the market environment much easier for private investors to invest,” LISC’s Anika Goss-Foster, vice president, sustainable communities, tells MHN. “We’re willing to take some of that risk for banks or groups of investors, for the private market, so they can come in and make that deeper investment.”

LlSC’s mission centers on its Building Sustainable Communities initiative, a strategy the organization adopted in 2006. “It’s a new way of doing business for us. It’s our new mission,” she notes. “It allows us to be able to look at a neighborhood as a whole, instead of by individual projects, and that has allowed us to identify new partners who are interested in a host of different activities ranging from security to acquiring properties in foreclosure. It’s our mezzanine product, but it’s a whole new way of investing in a neighborhood that will advance the comprehensive needs of that community.”

To that end, LISC’s investments in any one venture can involve such endeavors as schools and early childhood education centers; retail and industrial opportunities; community health and safety efforts; youth development and recreation projects; and, of course, development of affordable housing. In 2010, LISC’s activities encompassed approximately 10,800 affordable homes and apartments. The organization’s accomplishments during one of the country’s darkest economic periods in decades can be partially attributed to the rebound of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit market, fruitful fundraising efforts, and the fact that its core initiative continues to attract a great deal of new partners.

Fremont Oak Gardens

LISC will continue to have its hands full in 2011, particularly as the affordable housing market begins an evolution of sorts. More and more permanent housing projects to accommodate children aging out of foster care, for example, are coming to the fore. “It’s a growing need we’re starting to see in our urban areas,” Goss-Foster says. “And we’re seeing new twists to traditional housing, like artist live/work space in lofts or some sort of retrofit project. And in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles, at Mariachi Plaza where mariachi band members perform and pick up work, we were involved in creating housing for band members. We’re starting to see these kinds of unique projects.”

LISC’s $1.1 billion in investments last year has leveraged $2.4 billion in total development. Since its inception in 1990, the organization has invested $11.1 billion for a leveraged sum of $33.9 billion. The list of low-income housing projects LISC has supported over the years includes the $12.8 million Fremont Oak Gardens, a 50-unit satellite housing property in Fremont, Calif., designed to accommodate seniors and the hearing-impaired, and Cornerstone Manor, a $10 million, 58-unit shelter for homeless women and children in Buffalo, N.Y.

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