On Jan. 26, Mayor Mattie Parker and other City officials will kick off an initiative to increase financing for Fort Worth’s minority-owned businesses, affordable homeownership, rental housing and commercial real estate.
The city has committed $3 million toward the effort, known as CDFI Friendly Fort Worth.
CDFI Friendly Fort Worth will work as a go-between, matching CDFIs (or “community development financial institutions”) to residents, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits in Fort Worth’s communities. CDFIs offer flexible capital to address gaps in underserved communities.
CDFI Friendly Fort Worth expects to see up to $250 million in new CDFI lending over the next five years, according to CDFI Friendly America’s Mark Pinsky, which is more than seven times the amount of CDFI financing that Fort Worth has seen over the last 15 years. Pinksy also explained that there are more than 1,200 CDFIs working in the U.S., managing more than $220 billion.
CDFIs are not new. They have been working successfully in communities of color and other under-resourced places for more than 30 years, producing outstanding financial results. CDFIs are special-purpose financial institutions staffed by experts who are skilled in working with non-traditional borrowers and managing risks for a wide range of investors, including banks, faith-based investors, philanthropies, individuals, and others. According to industry data, 60% of more than $100 billion in CDFI financing over 30 years has gone to borrowers of color.
“CDFI financing is vital to lifting up Fort Worth’s historically underserved communities,” said Christina Brooks, the city’s Chief Equity Officer and Diversity & Inclusion Department Director. “CDFI industry data show that Fort Worth has seen just $39 per person in CDFI financing over 15 years, far less than the Texas average of $119 per person and the national average of $235 per person. CDFI Friendly Fort Worth will change that.”
“This is a huge opportunity for Fort Worth to step up its game in underserved areas of our city,” said Mayor Mattie Parker. “Funding is an important piece of any project, and with the help of CDFI Friendly Fort Worth, it will be less of a hurdle to overcome for residents, businesses and developers in these areas.”
CDFI Friendly Fort Worth is already identifying potential borrowers from the community and pairing them with CDFIs as part of a permanent, sustainable strategy for Fort Worth. PeopleFund, a CDFI based in Austin with an office in Fort Worth, will soon announce that it plans to establish a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Business Accelerator in Fort Worth in coming months.
CDFIs from across the nation are expected to participate in the kick-off, which will take place from 9:30-11 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26, at Fort Worth’s future City Hall, 100 Energy Way. (Virtual attendance is available.) Registration is required (https://www.cdfifriendlyfortworth.org/rsvp), and in-person space is limited.
The program will feature:
• Lenwood Long, President of the Alliance of African American CDFI CEOs;
• Marla Bilonick, President of the National Association of Latino Community Asset Builders.
Both Lenwood and Bilonick are CDFI industry veterans who will talk about how CDFIs can help people of color. In addition, Christina Brooks, the city’s Economic Development Director Robert Sturns, and CFA’s Mark Pinsky will speak.
CDFI Friendly Fort Worth was created late last year as the home to the new financing strategy. CDFI Friendly America is a national company on a mission to connect underserved people and communities to the $220+ billion CDFI industry.
For more information: www.cdfifriendlyfortworth.org
To register for the Jan. 26 event: https://www.cdfifriendlyfortworth.org/rsvp
To tell CDFI Friendly Fort Worth you are interested in borrowing: https://www.cdfifriendlyfortworth.org/borrowers
To learn more about CDFI Friendly America: www.cdfifriendlyamerica.com