The Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) team is excited to be convening with housers from across the state, and beyond, at this year’s Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing (SCANPH) Conference, “Grow Together.” That theme perfectly aligns with the recent scaling of our community development financial institution (CDFI) team, partnerships and work, which many strategies devised and implemented to foster the growth of affordable housing right here in Southern California.
At the SCANPH conference, I am proud to be moderating a panel, “Walk the Talk: Implementation Strategies for Racial Equity in Housing Finance,” which falls under the track of “Narrative Game-Changers for Housing Justice.” As a renowned CDFI, LIIF offers expertise around best practices in the affordable housing industry. This includes a unique understanding of sub-economies.
To elevate the discourse, I have pulled together a powerhouse panel: Director of Originations Paul Cummings of LIIF affiliate National Affordable Housing Trust (NAHT), a nonprofit syndicator of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC); Principal Alexis Laing of Laing Companies; and Consultant Alicia Matricardi of New Economics for Women. I know a timely – and lively – conversation will take place, so I hope you will be joining us.
By the Numbers
It should be noted that LIIF is coming off a banner lending year, with $292 million in loans closed in FY23 (July 1, 2022-June 30, 2023). Of that record number, 77% was earmarked to the production and preservation of affordable housing. The remainder was for community facilities lending — early learning and care centers, federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and charter schools – to keep an ecosystem in place for residents of historically excluded communities. This impactful work aligns with LIIF’s mission that “everyone in the United States should benefit from living in a community of opportunity, equity and well-being.”
LIIF mobilizes capital and partners to achieve its vision for people and communities. Since 1984, LIIF has deployed more than $3.2 billion to serve 2.5 million people in communities across the country from its five offices representing four strategically placed regional hubs: San Francisco (headquarters) and Los Angeles in the West; New York in the Northeast; Washington, D.C. in the Mid-Atlantic; and Atlanta in the Southeast.
Our Southern California Strategies
LIIF has a storied history around community development in California, including across the vast, heavily populated Southern California region. We devise and implement tried-and-true solutions, tailoring our strategies to meet the unique needs of the area’s complex housing market.
To ensure all-the-greater impact, LIIF forges synergistic partnerships. We seek mission-aligned partners – funders, investors, philanthropists, other CDFIs and policymakers – with a vision that matches LIIF’s goal of racial equity in lending. This is how we nimbly drive capital investments to under-resourced communities.
A History of our National Funds Aimed at Southern California
Following are four diverse examples of LIIF’s capital deployment in this equally diverse region.
- Golden State Acquisition Fund (GSAF). 10 years. 10,000 homes. 100 projects. Those numbers reflect the decade of success of GSAF starting in 2013. LIIF is the administrative agent, fund manager and an originator for this partnership with the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) and a collaborative of eight total CDFIs to create statewide coverage. With money revolved in a 3 to 1 ratio, in just 10 years there has been $292 million deployed for the acquisition of affordable housing sites, both preservation and new construction. (video)
LIIF’s CDFI partners are Century Housing, Community Vision, Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), Enterprise Community Partners, Housing Trust Silicon Valley, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC).
- We Lift: The Coachella Valley’s Catalyst Fund. Partnering with Lift to Rise starting in 2021, LIIF serves as fund manager for the We Lift: The Coachella Valley’s Housing Catalyst Fund. This fund supports a community-driven housing financial model that seeks to address the crucial shortage of affordable housing in Southern California’s Coachella Valley. The program aims to create 10,000 affordable units by 2028. An additional priority is to incentivize the co-location of early care and education (ECE) as much as possible. Action plans were created by the 70 community partners comprising the Housing and Economic Mobility Collaborative Action Networks (CANs), with these plans containing the results, priority factors and strategies that guide the work. Through Oct. 31, 2023, the fund has disbursed seven loans totaling $14.5 million to five projects, which will add 600 affordable units in four cities of the valley. Of that amount, LIIF itself has spurred three loans totaling over $5 million.
Besides Lift to Rise and CANs, who steward this vital work in a region with a growing income disparity, additional partners are the County of Riverside and Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC).
- Metro Affordable Transit Connected Housing Program (MATCH). LIIF joined as a partner in the $75 million MATCH program, started in 2017, to advance our efforts to build equitable, healthy, resilient communities. MATCH provides critical funding to preserve and expand affordable housing located near Los Angeles County public transit. Through the MATCH program, nonprofit and for-profit developers can access acquisition and predevelopment financing for rental housing opportunities at favorable terms.
Partners and CDFI originators are California Community Foundation, Enterprise Community Partners, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the California Endowment and the Weingart Foundation.
- Early Care and Education Infrastructure Grant Program (IGP). LIIF is the fund manager for IGP, a $350.5 million small-dollar grant program that since 2022 has been funding upgrades and expansions to ECE facilities across California, including family child care providers who operate out of their homes. Such community facilities lending complements our CDFI’s affordable housing work: We define capital as both loans and grants. Through Sept. 30, 2023, LIIF had deployed 1,930 grants totaling $111 million.
Our partner in this grant program is the California Department of Social Services (CDSS).
A New National Fund Scaling to Include Southern California
Under the oversight of our Racial Equity and Impact Lending team, LIIF launched the Black Developer Capital Initiative (BDCI) in 2021. This is a Special Purpose Credit Program (SPCP) in conjunction with our affiliate NAHT, based on their being a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) syndicator.
BDCI was developed with the understanding that traditional approaches to credit are rooted in systemic racism. The fund offers unsecure, below-market loans to Black developers with significant experience in the affordable housing sector. Out of the $20 million BDCI pool from the first round of funding, eight Black developers received financing for 22 projects across five markets. Because of the program’s success, LIIF has committed to deploying another $20 million via a second round of funding, which will also expand the geographies we serve. That includes Southern California.
LIIF is a proud member of SCANPH. Our long history working in this region aligns with SCANPH’s mission to facilitate affordable housing development across Southern California by advancing effective public policies, sustainable financial resources, strong member organizations and beneficial partnerships.
We know the best is yet to come and look forward to together driving equitable and impactful solutions to produce and preserve affordable housing as we better lives in historically excluded communities across Southern California. After all, it’s not only about buildings – it’s about the people in the buildings.