In 1994, the unique needs of low-income communities of persistent poverty inspired the creation of a banking institution with products and services specific to community development. As an outgrowth of such a need, the CDFI- Community Development Financial Institutions Fund was born from the Riegle Community Development and Regulatory Improvement Act holding to form, the mission of community development.
With legislative activity around budget cutting, identifying community supports that foster community development is a must. Such supports cannot be siloed into a non monetary activity. It will require an expense. Invested already in communities with a history of persistent poverty, are resources without a plan to help them learn to manage.
Across the spectrum, low-income communities are seen as “high risk” markets for traditional banking institutions. Access to financial products and services by this population help build community economies using its organic grassroots nature. The bottom-line is no longer dollars and cents, but community development with a unique set of stakeholders.
Stakeholders become the CDFI, the civic infrastructure of that community to include its nonprofit and faith-based sectors, as well as individuals and businesses. All become a chorus, of “we’re all in this together.” This is what help make real economic development happen in low-income communities. The CDFI’s greatest strength is its ability to tailor their products and services to meet the community’s unique needs.
Of course, traditional depositories or banks remain critical. With their access to the CRA- Community Reinvestment Act- inspiring partnerships with CDFIs, changes the outlook of communities in persistent poverty.
With CDFI’s mission to invest in low income communities with persistent poverty, the potential of its impact on northeastern North Carolina is significant. There must be a will to be intentional about CDFI’s and be prepared to give its promise, a good look.