Annual Letter from LIIF’s CEO and Board Chair
In a new year that feels full of both hope and challenge, we, at the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), are ready to get to work. Our mission: to create a more equitable and resilient future by investing to support communities of opportunity, equity and well-being.
2020 seemed relentless — from the COVID-19 pandemic and economic fallout to a collective racial awakening around the Black Lives Matter movement to a historically contentious election. It was a year of immense collective struggle that will have long-lasting effects. We entered the year already on a path to creating a new strategic plan. Seeing the events of the year force more people, particularly people of color, to struggle to simply be safe, seen, healthy and housed served to crystallize the need for our new direction.
That’s why LIIF committed to mobilizing $5 billion over the next decade to advance racial equity through our new strategic plan. We feel confident that this is the right plan at the right time and are energized by the path ahead. The plan includes a refined focus on preserving and expanding affordable housing and access to quality early care and education (ECE) because we know that these are areas where disparities are deepest, and that these assets are stepping stones to greater opportunity, mobility and security.
Over the past year, LIIF has worked to respond to both the immediate needs of communities and lay the groundwork for shifting our long-term strategies in ways that center those who have been historically excluded from investment. Last May, LIIF mounted a swift pandemic response to support our borrowers and the child care sector. Since then, we’ve mobilized more than $26 million in grants and technical assistance for ECE small business owners. This work — led mostly by women of color — quite literally saved local businesses, thus preserving critical community assets that build bright futures for children and offer flexibility for working parents.
We’re also looking ahead to how we can move our nation toward an equitable recovery. LIIF recently launched a new housing partnership with the National Affordable Housing Trust (NAHT) and Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF) to deepen our collective impact in housing. Together, we will invest $1 billion over the next five years to build, protect and preserve 10,000 homes, with a focus on low-income households and people of color who have been impacted by the housing crisis. In addition, we’re creating new lending products developed to fill gaps in access to capital, diversify our borrower pool and drive capital into historically disinvested communities. We are also revamping our lending framework to more explicitly and intentionally lead with impact and racially equitable strategies.
While these goals are ambitious, LIIF is building from a place of strength. We will use our more than 35 years of experience deploying $2.8 billion to help address the challenges our nation faces and that 2020 made so clear. Our Board of Directors was expanded this year and includes outstanding leadership in the community development, social science, public and financial sectors. LIIF maintains a strong balance sheet and continues to secure the support of mission-aligned partners, investors and donors, like MacKenzie Scott, who share our vision.
We recognize that LIIF has more work ahead in our journey to becoming an anti-racist, multicultural organization. This requires deep and consistent intentionality in our processes and decision-making from who we hire to whom we do business with. We are working toward shared language, an understanding of racial inequities and definitions of our priorities, as well as enhanced partnerships and deeper connections with the communities we serve. At every level of our organization, from the Board to leadership to each team and employee — we are holding ourselves accountable.
This year’s Annual Impact Report showcases stories of LIIF’s work to achieve greater equity in community development. In the stories that follow, we explore innovative investments in child care, housing solutions that combat divestment and displacement and how community voice and power are shaping developments through examples like SPARCC and Purpose Built Communities projects.
We’re proud of this work and our dedicated and talented staff who — for a year now — have juggled multiple responsibilities while working remotely to make it happen. We also recognize the distance still to be traveled. It will take a concerted and collective effort to face the work ahead, and we’re ready to roll up our sleeves.
Daniel A. Nissenbaum, CEO
Carol Redmond Naughton, Board Chair
View the full Annual Impact Report >