November 2002

New Direct Community Investments Help Build Healthy Communities

Catholic Health Initiatives has made five new investments through its Direct Community Investment Program, which provides low- or no-interest loans to community-based organizations that promote affordable housing, job creation, child care and other aspects of a healthy community. With these investments, Catholic Health Initiatives has committed $20.5 million in loans, a significant step toward the goal of lending two percent of the assets of Catholic Health Initiatives’ Operating Investment Program.

The new investments include:

ACEnet Ventures Athens, Ohio Loan amount: $50,000 ACEnet Ventures is a financial termediary that supports entrepreneurial initiatives and creates jobs for low-income residents of central Appalachia. More than 22 percent of the residents of Appalachia live in poverty, and unemployment is four times the national average. The mission of ACEnet Ventures is to assist the economic development of central Appalachian communities through loans to small businesses, specifically those in the specialty foods and technology sectors. Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise Chattanooga, Tenn. Loan amount: $1 million Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise (CNE) is a non-profit organization established to encourage home ownership by providing below-market rate loans to residents of Chattanooga. CNE has a long-standing relationship with Memorial Hospital of Chattanooga through an employer-assisted housing program. Through this program, CNE and Memorial help employees obtain loans that may not be available through conventional sources to purchase or rehabilitate homes. Ruth Brinkley, president and chief executive officer of Memorial Hospital, announced the direct community investment during a September 16 news conference, which also featured a Memorial employee who has received a loan from CNE. Financing Ozarks Rural Growth & Economy Huntsville, Ark. Loan amount: $50,000 Financing Ozarks Rural Growth & Economy (FORGE) is a revolving loan fund that provides loans to farmers, small businesses, home-based businesses and recent immigrants. The mission of FORGE is to promote and enhance the quality of life and economic sustainability of agricultural communities by linking investors to borrowers; urban communities to rural communities; and consumers to producers and low-income groups with basic affordable credit. FORGE’s primary service area is the Ozark region, which includes portions of Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Northern California Community Loan Fund San Francisco, Calif. Loan amount: $250,000 The primary purpose of the Northern California Community Loan Fund (NCCLF) is to revitalize low-income communities through lending and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations. NCCLF seeks to strengthen the economic base of low-income communities by lending to nonprofit organizations that typically have limited access to financing from traditional lenders. This is Catholic Health Initiatives’ second investment in NCCLF, which will allow the organization to expand its capacity to make direct loans to support affordable housing projects, community facilities, human service agencies and nonprofit organizations that meet the needs of low-income communities in Northern California. Self-Help Ventures Fund Durham, N.C. Loan amount: $500,000 Self-Help Ventures Fund is a community development financial institution founded to promote social justice and economic opportunity for employee- and minority-owned businesses. Self-Help is in the process of expanding its Community Facilities Fund, which provides loans to non-profit organizations and human service providers, to a nationwide program. This is Catholic Health Initiatives’ second investment in Self-Help, which will assist the organization serve numerous low-income individuals throughout the country.