Grove Park Foundation receives first investment from nationwide partnership to revitalize communities
In the Grove Park neighborhood of Atlanta, the Grove Park Foundation has started construction on a new K-8 school, health center and YMCA, and 110 units of mixed income housing, all as part of Phase I investments in the community’s plan toward greater stability and opportunity. With philanthropic support from JPMorgan Chase and financing from the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) through LIIF’s EQT product, the affordable housing program is kicking off its next phase to create long-term, single family affordable rental and homeownership opportunities. The Grove Park Foundation, a Purpose Built Communities network member, aims to revitalize a community that has been impacted by decades of disinvestment and segregation. While the work has been impacted due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, planning and construction for the new facilities continue. The flexibility of the EQT product is helping the Foundation meet expenses and leverage additional funding until the economy stabilizes.
This is the first investment for the Accelerator Initiative, a larger multi-million dollar commitment by LIIF to provide a range of flexible capital solutions to accelerate the completion of Purpose Built Communities network sites across the U.S. Made possible through JPMorgan Chase’s philanthropic support, LIIF’s signature EQT loan product provides a 10-year term, a below-market interest rate, and a flexible, enterprise-level approach uniquely suited to support long-term revitalization efforts like those taking place in Grove Park. The flexible structure of EQT, which was built to work around shifting construction timelines or changing organizational priorities, has now proved to be a powerful tool in helping nonprofits such as Grove Park during this uncertain time.
Thirty percent of Grove Park’s adult residents live below the federal poverty level. It is currently estimated that 75% of the neighborhood’s residents work in low wage service industry jobs and have been laid off. At a time when COVID-19 is highlighting health and economic disparities across the country, bringing education, housing and health, and wellness facilities to the neighborhood will help to improve health outcomes and increase education and job access for all Grove Park residents.
In 2016, LIIF and JPMorgan Chase launched the $6 million EQT pilot phase in response to the need for a longer-term, equity-like capital tool to support integrated people- and place-based strategies. The successful financing of neighborhood revitalization projects in four communities during the pilot phase prompted the expansion of the EQT program. JPMorgan Chase’s new investment, which totals $2.4 million, is supporting Grove Park and other Purpose Built network member projects in select neighborhoods across the nation.
Over the past six years, LIIF has invested $62 million in neighborhoods in the Purpose Built Communities network, which now includes 28 urban neighborhoods implementing a place-based approach to community revitalization that integrates mixed-income housing, cradle to college education, and health and wellness services and facilities. The Purpose Built model continues to demonstrate strong outcomes for communities. Flexible financing products like EQT are essential to advancing this work.
“To create thriving neighborhoods, we need smarter solutions to holistically address, and break contributors to the cycle of poverty. This is especially important now as many communities deal with the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis,” said Mike Marino, Southeast Executive of the J.P. Morgan Private Bank based in Atlanta. “We are proud to help LIIF and Purpose Built Communities continue their important work to create neighborhoods of opportunity, where diverse people at all income levels can thrive – and excited to kick off the second phase here in Atlanta.”
“JPMorgan Chase has been a longtime partner, and we are pleased to collaborate with them again to launch the second phase of EQT,” said Kimberly Latimer-Nelligan, LIIF’s President. “Flexible, enterprise-level financing for community quarterbacks is providing critical short-term solutions to weather the current crisis and I am excited to see this investment translate into education and wellness opportunities and housing that is affordable to residents of Grove Park. We look forward to more EQT investments in the Purpose Built network.”
“Making a real difference for the Grove Park community requires us to respond quickly to ensure that the current residents have access to a quality education, affordable housing and a healthy and vibrant community. The flexibility of LIIF and JPMorgan Chase’s EQT funding will allow us to make strategic investments and leverage other dollars in a deeply impactful way,” said Debra Edelson, Executive Director of the Grove Park Foundation.
A key component of the EQT program is tracking impact data, such as kindergarten readiness, third grade reading proficiency and resident safety, to demonstrate the long-term benefits of integrative people- and place-based strategies. All four of the communities taking part in the pilot phase of EQT– Columbia Parc in New Orleans led by Bayou District Foundation, Potrero Annex in San Francisco and Jordan Downs in Los Angeles, both led by BRIDGE Housing, and Avondale Town Center in Cincinnati, led by The Community Builders – report measurable improvements in community-wide outcomes.
In BRIDGE Housing’s Potrero Annex, the percentage of residents that report feeling safe more than doubled over the past three years. In Avondale, the number of children enrolled in early education programs increased from 18% to 73% during a similar timeframe. And the neighborhood of Columbia Parc has generated further investment to decrease blight and vacancy from 26% of lots in 2015 to 10% in 2018.