Memphis CDFI Network halfway to $3 million impact despite COVID-19

Memphis CDFI Network on track for improvements in Frayser, Whitehaven
By: GJC Publicity LLC
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - March 1, 2021 - PRLog -- In 2019, JPMorgan Chase awarded $3 million to four organizations within the Memphis Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Network for work in the Frayser and Whitehaven neighborhoods. Memphis CDFI Network had goals for immersive engagement, and then the COVID-19 global pandemic hit. After a year of pivoting, the network continues its commitment to providing these areas with access to capital and opportunities.

"We had to approach JPMorgan Chase with a new plan. In May, they approved reallocation of funds towards mortgage modification or COVID-19 related deferment, rental assistance funds, and other forgivable loans to support those facing economic strain," said Rachel Starks, spokesperson for Memphis CDFI Network. "We are proud to say that the network has collectively reallocated nearly $1.4 million already!"

Initial needs expressed to the network by residents in Frayser and Whitehaven included addressing blighted and vacant properties, providing quality, affordable housing, and improving the small business ecosystem.

"There is a great deal of positive energy being directed towards Frayser," said Damon Williams, executive director of the Frayser CDC. "We are pleased to see the Memphis CDFI Network making investments in the community to address long-standing issues."

The Memphis CDFI Network worked to meet these needs with: 50 homes purchased by local individuals and families, 44 families supported with rental assistance, and 23 homes repaired. Overall, 172 loans have been issued to residents in these targeted neighborhoods. The Memphis CDFI Network has assisted more than 100 small businesses in Whitehaven and Frayser and approved 44 small business loans.

In May 2020, Desiree Blaine, a first-time homeowner, applied and was approved for a mortgage loan after receiving mortgage education services from United Housing.

"The desire to own a home was there for maybe two or three years. One of the major obstacles was the financial aspect," Blaine said. "Having a home, I feel more secure."

"Responding to financial hardships of COVID-19, our network now offers financial assistance through forgivable loans and grants to preserve existing small businesses, mortgages and rental housing for Whitehaven and Frayser," Starks explained. "We are also planning to increase our offerings relating to housing stability, as many families are relying on savings for mortgages and down payments during this time."

MEMShop is a focus of this initiative. A program of Memphis CDFI Network partner Communities Unlimited, it provides business owners with startup stipends and one-on-one management consulting. Six MEMShops are planned for selection and launch in these target neighborhoods. Each MEMShop business will be assisted with planning, access to capital, and management consulting.

This month, the Memphis CDFI Network will also launch a new website featuring Smartsheet for faster servicing of clients.


Ashlei Williams
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