Everyone should benefit from living in a community of opportunity, equity and well-being. For decades, historical injustices in housing and urban development policies—such as redlining and exclusion of people of color from programs such as the G.I. Bill — have prevented people of color, particularly Black and Latino people, from increasing their economic mobility, building wealth and accessing high opportunity communities. While some of these policies have been repealed, their oppressive legacies live on. And, we see new iterations of these in current policy, perpetuating and compounding these injustices particularly against Black and Latino Americans — including the rollback of fair housing law, systemic displacement and discrimination.
This has been further reinforced as we see communities of color hardest hit by the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic devastation. It is unacceptable that Black and Latino Americans are being infected and dying at disproportionate rates because of the very inequities that make people most vulnerable to these crises — in housing, education, jobs and health. These inequities are deepening, and we are committed to reversing that, both in the immediate response phase and in the long-term “new normal.”
At the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), we are proud that we have become a leader in creative capital deployment and investment in affordable housing and community facilities. Yet, we know that our work is driven as much by the financial system in which we participate as by our understanding of what is needed to create healthy, inclusive and vibrant communities. LIIF’s new strategic plan acknowledges the extent to which the traditional capital markets have long been rooted in White supremacy, by limiting the ability for people of color to reap the rewards of their work, building wealth and reaching their potential.
And over time, our work has more intentionally centered racial equity through programs and initiatives, such as the Strong, Prosperous, And Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC) and the CDFI Racial Equity Collaborative on Education. We’ve also doubled down on our internal racial equity work, launching an internal committee to guide our efforts and engaging with external consultants, such as RaceForward and Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training. Most importantly, perhaps, we are working to be better listeners to the people of color in the communities in which we work and to our own colleagues and partners. At LIIF, we are committed to our journey to becoming an anti-racist organization and acknowledge that we are still learning and working on becoming better allies to communities of color.
As we were mid-stride on the development of our strategic plan, the impacts of 2020’s myriad crises began to sink in — a global pandemic, resulting economic recession and rise in public consciousness of the acts of violence against people of color, particularly Black individuals — underscoring the urgency for change for LIIF and our field.
This is why we are calling on each of you to join us as we work with others in this movement to transform community development to explicitly and intentionally incorporate impact and racially equitable strategies into how we evaluate opportunities and direct our capital.
Today, we are announcing our four-year plan “Mobilizing Capital to Build Communities of Opportunity, Equity and Well-Being” which will be the jump start toward our ten-year goal to drive $5 billion to advance racial equity over the next decade.
We know we can’t do this alone. We invite each of you to join us in using our collective forces, power and influence to disrupt and rebuild our society into the more just and equitable society it must become. It’s beyond time that all individuals — regardless of race or ZIP code — have access to communities of opportunity, equity and well-being including choice in where they live.
Our inspiration for a better future is synthesized in our renewed mission and vision. From this vantage point, we’ve realigned and identified key focus areas for our investments, allowing us to strengthen our impact in three key areas:
- Impact-led lending: As a community development financial institution (CDFI), lending is the primary engine of impact we use to build communities of opportunity, equity and well-being. Since inception, we have deployed $2.7 billion, and our new plan will guide us toward more measurable, equitable outcomes for people of color through our investments by 2024. Ultimately, LIIF hopes to create a model that can be leveraged by other CDFIs and lifts up strategies that put power, community decision and capital closer to where it belongs — in communities.
- Affordable housing: Long-standing racial disparities continue to create barriers to quality affordable housing for communities of color. The COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified this imbalance. LIIF is focused on preserving and increasing the supply of quality affordable homes, specifically seeking to advance strategies that address housing inequities and displacement for people of color and lower-income people. To accomplish this, LIIF has committed to offering capital products, seeking out mission-aligned partnerships and filling funding gaps to drive equitable access to housing.
- Early care and education: Equitable access to early care and education (ECE) is fundamental to holistic community development and a critical social determinant of health. Child care investments create positive long-term outcomes for children, families, small business owners and employees and have an outsized impact on communities of color. As part of our plan, we’re committed to doubling the number of children and ECE professionals we serve by 2024 to expand and preserve access to high quality early care and education.
Safe, quality affordable housing and ECE are foundational for the well-being of families and communities. They are also areas where low-income communities and communities of color face deep inequities and where we believe we can make the most significant impact on people’s long-term well-being and opportunities for economic mobility. Leveraging our platform, partnerships and voice, LIIF will work to change the systems in which we operate and increase access to affordable housing, high-quality educational opportunities and the ability to live healthy and active lives with access to good jobs. Our renewed focus will spur generations of healthy families and strengthen community assets led by and for communities of color.
This bold vision requires a more intentional approach. In addition to our keen focus on embedding social justice and racial equity, we commit to influencing practices and policies within the field, building an internal foundation for innovation and learning and increasing our financial and organizational sustainability. We are also enhancing our internal policies and practices to ensure that we hire and do business with people and businesses who represent the communities we serve.
We know that we cannot challenge and disrupt our current systems without the support from each of you who share and support our vision. Download our plan, “Mobilizing Capital to Build Communities of Opportunity, Equity and Well-Being” to learn about our vision and how, together, we can build communities of opportunity, equity and well-being.