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Single Idaho credit union granted CDFI funding

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Neighborworks Boise, which funded this affordable housing project in Garden City, did not receive federal CDFI funding this round. File photo.

Another Idaho credit union has been certified as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), and in addition was the only one receiving a Treasury Department grant during the most recent round of funding.

The new CDFI is Freedom Northwest Credit Union, with four locations in the Kamiah/Nez Perce area. It was certified as a CDFI on June 18.

“Freedom Northwest Credit Union is a high-performing credit union headquartered in a rural area that has limited options for financial services,” said Eric Lindsay, vice president and chief financial officer of the Kamiah-based organization. “That description closely matches the type of institution the CDFI fund often awards funds to. Becoming a CDFI and applying for a grant seemed like a natural fit with our already existing business plan, past performance and anticipated growth.”

CDFIs are nonprofit organizations that help provide funding for low-income people to get housing, either through mortgage or building improvement loans. Before Freedom was added, Idaho had six CDFIs.

Freedom received $700,000 from the annual grant program through a program specifically intended to help Native American financial institutions. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) awarded $15.1 million in fiscal year 2018 Native American CDFI Assistance (NACA) Program Financial Assistance and Technical Assistance to 38 organizations in 16 states to facilitate the creation and advancement of Native CDFIs. The CDFI Fund received 53 applications requesting $33.7 million for the fiscal year 2018 round.

Freedom will use the money to support continued growth in its loan portfolio, Lindsay said.

Other Idaho CDFIs didn’t receive grants this funding round, though not all of them applied.

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Anna Gamboa

“Not receiving the CDFI funds this year reduces our ability to leverage those funds towards our down payment assistance programs,” said Anna Gamboa, director of communication and community engagement for NeighborWorks Boise.

In 2016, the organization, formerly known as Neighborhood Housing Services, was awarded $500,000, and this year, the organization applied for $700,000, after not receiving anything in 2017. Typically, the funds are used to pay for second mortgages, while another organization pays for the first 80 percent of the mortgage.

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Dutch Haarsma

“We did not apply for a (financial assistance) award this round as we just received an award of $776,000 in the last award cycle,” said Dutch R. Haarsma, president of the Idaho-Nevada CDFI. “We did, however, recently submit an application to the Capital Magnet Fund, which is a highly competitive program at the CDFI Fund to capitalize affordable housing development.  We hope to learn the results in late winter 2019.”

The Idaho-Nevada CDFI, based in Boise, has provided about $75 million toward affordable housing since its inception, which it has leveraged to provide $403 million in financing, 3,000 units of housing, 6,200 construction jobs and 500 permanent jobs, according to the organization.

Nationwide, the CDFI Fund awarded 302 CDFIs a total of $202.2 million. For the FY 2018 round, the CDFI Fund received applications from 432 organizations requesting $334.9 million through the CDFI Program Financial Assistance and Technical Assistance awards, according to the department.

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Pablo DiFilippi

CDFIs that didn’t receive funding will continue to maintain their certification as long as they keep submitting their annual reports and are eligible to apply for the next round, which should open at the beginning of February, said Pablo DeFilippi, senior vice president of membership & network engagement for the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, in New York.

Freedom Northwest was the fastest-growing credit union in Idaho during the fourth quarter of 2017. Formerly known as Kamiah Community Credit Union, the organization changed its field of membership. Previously, members had to live in Lewis or Idaho counties; now, anyone who joins the Kamiah Chamber of Commerce and pays $20 can join, meaning people in the more urban areas of Nez Perce County and even Clarkston, Washington, can now join.

About Sharon Fisher