In a normal year, Congress sets appropriations for federal government agencies in July, debates them in September, and approves them in time for the start of a new fiscal year on October 1.
But this is not a normal year, and it may be as late as December before we learn the fate of the Community Financial Development Institution (CDFI) Fund, the portion of the Treasury Department that runs the New Markets Tax Credit program and provides grants and other assistance to CDFIs like Community Vision.
This year, Community Vision received a $1.1 million Financial Assistance Award and a $2 million Healthy Foods Finance Initiative Award that will bring much-needed affordable housing and healthy food access to areas long overlooked for these kind of developments. Next year, these and other CDFI Fund programs are threatened by budget cuts. The President’s budget in March proposed to nearly eliminate its $250 million budget, and over the summer a House appropriations subcommittee marked up a bill that would slash that amount by 23 percent.
CDFI Fund awards are the largest source of permanent lending capital for Community Vision and other CDFIs. Because they leverage other investments from banks, foundations, religious institutions, and individuals – up to $12 for every dollar awarded – they are a fundamental part of how CDFIs grow and broaden their community development impact. This translates into real world consequences for low-income neighborhoods as CDFIS are often leading equitable development efforts.
At Community Vision, we are not just crossing our fingers and hoping for the best. We have been advocating for continuing appropriations for the CDFI Fund at the current $250 million level since March. In April, we attended the Opportunity Finance Network’s Advocacy Day in Washington, DC, meeting with staff of Representatives Jim Costa and David Valadao. At the end of September, we will be back in Washington in the offices of Senator Kamala Harris and Representatives Jackie Speier, Jerry McNerney, Mark DeSaulnier, Devin Nunes, and other Northern California congress people whose constituents benefit from a fully financed CDFI Fund.
The budget process feels like it’s taking forever this year, but it just gives us more time to get the word out. Join us in expressing your support for CDFIs and the communities we serve by calling your congress people: Granting a full $250 million for the CDFI Fund is one of the most effective ways they can stimulate community development in their districts and across California. You can find your representative here: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find/