The Treasury Department's Community Development Financial Institutions Fund visited the Gulf Coast recently to discuss the area's recovery after Hurricane Katrina, break ground for a housing development made possible through the CDFI Fund's New Markets Tax Credit Program and learn how the Fund could provide further assistance to attract private sector investment.
CDFI Fund Director Kimberly A. Reed also requested that the Community Development Advisory Board, which advises the director on policy matters, hold its annual meeting in New Orleans, La., the first time that the board has met outside of Washington, D.C.
"We are committed to helping those affected by Hurricane Katrina, and we want the Community Development Advisory Board to see firsthand how the CDFI Fund's programs, including $1 billion in New Markets Tax Credits for the Gulf Opportunity Zone, can attract private sector capital investment and provide critically needed financial education and services. More importantly, we are learning what else the CDFI Fund can do to help these communities become better and stronger," said Director Reed.
Bill Myers, Founder and CEO of Alternative Federal Credit Union in Ithaca, NY, presents information to the Community Development Advisory Board on a variety of successful credit-building and anti-predatory financial products and services. Many certified CDFIs provide financial counseling and alternative products to their low-income clients.
The Congressionally-created Community Development Advisory Board received a presentation by President George W. Bush's Office of Federal Support for Gulf Coast Recovery and Rebuilding, a bus tour of the revitalization projects financed in-part through CDFI Fund awards, and participated in presentations by CDFI Fund staff and experts on key community development topics.
The advisory board consists of 15 members, including the Secretary of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Interior and Treasury and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration, or his or her designee; and nine private citizens appointed by the President.
CDFI Fund Director Kimberly A. Reed (center) gathers with members of the Community Development Advisory Board.
"Secretary Paulson and Director Reed have reinvigorated the CDFI Fund's commitment to restoring the Gulf Coast," said Don Powell, the President's Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding. "We appreciate all the Treasury has done so far for this region and the Department's continued commitment to helping us rebuild."
The Director and her staff met with families who received assistance from organizations supported by the CDFI Fund and visited a financial counseling center that is helping Mississippi families as they rebuild their homes. Advisory Board Chairman Bill Bynum and the CDFI Fund staff also visited Jackson, Gulfport, and Biloxi, Miss. to meet with U.S. and local official offices and area businesses.
CDFI Fund Director Kimberly A. Reed (4th from right) meets with Ms. Merle Crenshaw, a resident in Pass Christian, MS, whose new home was made possible through the Enterprise Corporation of the Delta's (ECD) "Home Again" program. ECD is a certified CDFI participating in the immediate and the long-term rebuilding and recovery efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi. (Left to Right: Peter Dugas, CDFI Fund; Jessica Lawson, Home Again/ECD; Scott Berman, CDFI Fund; CDFI Fund Director Kim Reed; Ms. Merle Crenshaw; Bill Bynum, President & CEO of ECD and HOPE Community Credit Union; and Bill Luecht, CDFI Fund.)
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the CDFI Fund has been focused on revitalizing Gulf Coast communities. The U.S. Treasury Department announced changes to the NMTC application materials as a first step to be helpful on September 9, 2005, in Mobile, Ala. President Bush signed the Gulf Opportunity Zone (GO Zone) Act in December 2005 to help create jobs and spur development by providing tax relief for businesses and entrepreneurs in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
As part of this legislation, the CDFI Fund is providing $1 billion in federal tax incentives through its NMTC Program. $600 million in tax credits were awarded in June 2006, less than six months after the GO Zone legislation was enacted, and the final $400 million will be awarded in the fall of 2007 as part of the $3.9 billion 2007 NMTC application round.
Members of the Community Development Advisory Board visit the Clear Head Learning Center in New Orleans. Ms. Tahira Nadir, the owner, describes the financial counseling and assistance she received from HOPE Community Credit Union, a certified CDFI and Fund awardee, which proved critical in her being able to reopen after Hurricane Katrina and provide severely needed daycare. (Left to right: J. French Hill, Board member; Donna Gambral, Regional Director, Office of the Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding; Nancy Leake, Board member; Bill Luecht, CDFI Fund; Bill Bynum, Chairman of the CDFI Fund's Advisory Board and President and CEO of ECD/HOPE; Linda Davenport, CDFI Fund; Ms. Tahira Nadir, Owner of Clear Head Learning Center; CDFI Fund Director Kim Reed; Lynette Colin, Branch Manager, HOPE Community Credit Union; Marc Vigo, CDFI Fund; and Michael Hager, Board member.)
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