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SMALL BUSINESS | HEARD ON THE BEAT

Loan Fund for Latinos

July 28, 1999|MARLA DICKERSON and LEE ROMNEY | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

The National Council of La Raza and Bank of America have announced a $20-million revolving loan fund to finance Latino community development groups across the country. The fund, which has Treasury Department Community Development Financial Institution certification, is the first of such funds with a national scope that targets Latinos.

Among early recipients of the so-called Hope Fund is Ventura-based Cabrillo Economic Development Corp., a nonprofit developer of affordable housing. The partnership was announced at the Washington-based National Council of La Raza's annual convention in Houston this week. The money will be available to NCLR's 240 affiliated Latino community organizations around the country for projects such as affordable housing and for community facilities such as day-care centers or charter schools. Local organizations can also apply for lines of credit to help them purchase property or cover operating expenses, NCLR spokeswoman Lisa Navarette said.

"The community organizations are the backbone of our organization," she said. "A lot are already involved in community development efforts or want to be. What they lack is initial capitalization."

"Investing in low- and moderate-income communities truly is good business," added Walter Davis, strategic alliances executive for Bank of America. The assistance that flows to projects through the loan fund is likely to bring other business to the bank, such as home mortgages, gap financing and equity investment, he said.

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