WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) today introduced legislation that would provide an additional $1 billion to the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund to boost local economies in low-income, rural and urban communities that were disproportionally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a sledgehammer to our nation’s economy and our disadvantaged rural and urban communities need our help now more than ever,” said Sen. Menendez. “CDFI investments have proven successful in leveraging billions more in private sector investments in low-income communities often challenged by high unemployment, abandoned properties and stagnant incomes to spur economic activity and job creation, grow small businesses and revitalize neighborhoods. The Coronavirus CDFI Funding Act will boost the CDFI Fund and give our communities hit hard by the pandemic a real shot at economic recovery and prosperity.”

The CDFI Fund generates economic growth and opportunity in some of our nation’s most distressed communities by offering innovative programs that invest federal dollars alongside private sector capital. Private community partners have for the better part of a century injected capital, created jobs, and provided mortgage credit, small business loans, and banking services to spur economic growth in lower-income, distressed communities.

Due to the pandemic, many businesses have been forced to close or reduce capacity in order to comply with stay-at-home and social distancing orders. These mom-and-pop shops often drive the local economy. The Coronavirus CDFI Funding Act will inject much needed funding back into communities that need it most.

In 2019, CDFIs made over 772,000 loans or investments totaling nearly $21.5 billion, including loans to over 23,000 small businesses. The average size of each loan or investment was $28,000. CDFIs also financed 51,359 affordable housing units, made 697,854 consumer loans totaling more than $9 billion, and provided 42,006 home improvement and home purchase loans totaling over $4.4 billion. Additionally, CDFIs’ leverage $12 in private capital for every dollar in federal support.

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) are cosponsoring the legislation.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has left local economies across Illinois and the U.S. bruised as small businesses struggle to keep the lights on and Americans try to make ends meet despite layoffs and economic uncertainty,” said Sen. Durbin. “If we want to help the communities disproportionally affected by COVID-19 bounce back, we must invest federal dollars into the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund to jumpstart the economic revival these neighborhoods desperately need.”

“CDFIs serve as a direct financial lifeline for struggling communities that have been hardest hit by COVID-19, funding small businesses, non-profits, and a diverse range of community development projects,” said Sen. Van Hollen. “The ongoing economic crisis has devastated many of our local economies, and boosting this resource will be crucial to ensuring a full recovery for these communities.”

“Senator Menendez has always championed the critical role CDFIs play in serving communities struggling against persistent racial and economic inequality. Opportunity Finance Network welcomes the Menendez call for $1 billion in immediate CDFI Fund grants to strengthen CDFIs to do more in the challenging months ahead,” said Lisa Mensah, President & CEO Opportunity Finance Network.

Now is the time to support critical funding for the CDFI Fund, so CDFIs can create economic opportunities that serve our most vulnerable neighborhoods, small businesses and communities,” said Wayne Meyer, President of New Jersey Community Capital. “We thank Senator Menendez for always leading this charge. The CDFI Fund is an essential and necessary resource not only for CDFIs but also the nation’s economy. In order to get America back on track, the innovation and ingenuity of CDFIs are paramount. Our work supports the creation of jobs and provides sustainable pathways to prosperity and growth for hardworking Americans.”

In past years, New Jersey Community Capital has used their federal funds to finish projects such as the Hahne & Co. Building in Newark and the Millville Arts and Innovation Center in Millville.

Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-N.C.-12) introduced companion legislation in May. A copy of the bill text can be found here.