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O.C. lender to low-income areas gets grant to expand in Nevada

September 28, 2012|By E. Scott Reckard
  • Douglas J. Bystry (left), chief executive of Clearinghouse CFDI, with Donna J. Gambrel, director of the U.S. Treasury Department's Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, at the Market Creek Plaza in San Diego, a shopping and community center financed by Clearinghouse.
Douglas J. Bystry (left), chief executive of Clearinghouse CFDI, with… (Clearinghouse CDFI )

Orange County's Clearinghouse CDFI, which makes subsidized community improvement loans in low-income areas, has received a $2-million grant to help it expand into Nevada.

The gift to the Lake Forest-based lender was one of three announced Thursday by the NEXT Awards for Opportunity Finance, which also provided a combined $6.25 million to two New York-based institutions that finance community health centers and affordable housing.

Clearinghouse CDFI has made $925 million in loans over the last 15 years to such borrowers as the Monarch School for homeless children in San Diego, the Samoan Congregational Community Church in Carson and Native American Natural Foods, which produces buffalo meat and berry snacks on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

Douglas J. Bystry, Clearinghouse’s chief executive, said the grant will be used to expand loans for affordable housing, nonprofit organizations and redevelopment projects in Nevada, where credit is hard to come by amid high unemployment and foreclosures.

The NEXT program is administered by the Opportunity Finance Network, an association of community development financial institutions. The network uses funds from Wells Fargo & Co., the Kresge Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation to support CDFIs, as they are known.

CDFIs  are private financial institutions set up to provide affordable loans to lower-income and hard-to-serve customers. They are backed by the U.S. Treasury Department and receive some federal funding, but most of the money they lend is provided at low cost by traditional banks as a way to fulfill their obligations to do business in distressed neighborhoods.

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