As the pandemic continues to strain our team, our borrowers, partners and the communities LIIF serves, we find ourselves in a moment of challenge, opportunity and determination. COVID-19 continues to exacerbate disparities in opportunity, assets and resources in communities across the country. At LIIF, we are using this moment to fuel our deepened commitment to equitable community development.
Now, into the second year of our strategic plan, our vision has been validated and confirmed. There has been a resounding public call from communities that we serve for greater supply and more equitable access to affordable housing and early care and education. COVID-19 challenged families who experienced low quality and over-crowded housing and diminished child care options. The risk of continued instability from housing stock loss and evictions is significant. The shortage of child care eliminated critical support for those who continued to work outside the home and caused a significant decline in women’s participation in the labor force.
We have made clear our commitment to being an anti-racist organization. Specifically, we centered our work to serve those facing the deepest inequities: Black and Latino communities. We grounded our position in four fundamental principles to guide how we lend and partner, and we continue to learn from the history of structural and institutional racism as we strive for a more inclusive and connected society. We aim to build access, transformational outcomes, and power and agency in communities often excluded from such opportunities.
Our entire team at LIIF is committed to this work. As we look back over the past year, it is truly remarkable how our staff has achieved so much – producing real and dynamic change – while working remotely and managing their own challenging personal situations.
The LIIF team continues to respond to an increased level of need in this moment. We have proceeded to lend and invest at strong levels; we provided flexibility to borrowers; and we raised and deployed significant amounts of funding for early care and education providers. This also meant developing new capital products that both continue to help clients through this crisis, like our loan funding for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Developer Fee Bridge Initiative that provides needed liquidity, as well as flexible, low cost working capital to prevent critical affordable housing projects from stalling during the pandemic.
While our team responded in moments of need, they also stayed true to our longer-term vision of shaping and catalyzing how LIIF will expand its work and its reach in the future. We are in the final stages of a new framework for how LIIF deploys capital, guided by our goal to increase the agency, power and community voice of those impacted by development. This will take our portfolio and programs in new directions and with new partners, drawing from years of work in equity principles in education, finance and other areas.
Through our deep and successful partnership with the Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future and the National Affordable Housing Trust, we are building on our long track record in affordable housing. LIIF is significantly expanding the scale of our early care and education work, both geographically and with new pilot initiatives around asset building for child care business owners and housing co-location.
Our work would not be successful without our funders. They, too, deserve special mention. Our funders have not only stood by us – they have increased their support. In fact, they encouraged our journey to be explicit in our anti-racism commitment. The funding we received for our Black Developer Capital Initiative, for instance, is among the most flexible, long term and favorably priced funding we have ever received.
Our vision, our staff, our clients, our partners and our funders are all crucial ingredients for LIIF to create the impact that is needed right now. We continue to learn from all. We continue to be pushed to new heights by all. And we expect more of that as we march forward.
Before closing, we note the transition of three amazing board members, Erika Poethig, Margaret Salazar and Janis Bowdler, each of whom stepped off the board in order to serve in the current Administration. Each made significant contributions to LIIF’s work and were wonderful colleagues and friends.
We are humbled and grateful – for the commitment of our board, for the tireless work and deep dedication of our staff and, of course, for the work of those we serve. It is our pledge to continue to use all our resources to further our mission, so that everyone in this country benefits from a community of opportunity, equity and well-being.
Daniel A. Nissenbaum
LIIF Board Chair