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Cascade: No. 74, Spring/Summer 2010

Message from the Community Affairs Officer

Today, everywhere you turn, you see “green.” Never has the energy conservation movement been so evident in our lives, and this issue of Cascade is no exception. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has provided the catalyst through an enormous amount of money to support energy conservation in existing and new buildings and to train a cadre of people to make the energy-efficiency improvements. In the long run, the conservation effort will reduce our country’s energy needs, but it will also reduce the living costs for all of us, including low- and moderate-income people.

Stockton Williams of HUD’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities has identified some interesting “green” stories in the Third District. One is a new solar energy program used by the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency to generate electricity for multifamily buildings in its portfolio, and another is a sustainable energy utility in Delaware that Citi is helping with a planned bond issue. Instead of selling energy, it sells products to reduce energy use.

Rob Sanders of The Reinvestment Fund (TRF) describes energy financing that TRF will provide through three new loan funds. TRF is using $20 million in ARRA money as loan capital for the three funds and leveraging other public and private sources, some with a four-to-one leverage. TRF recommends that its borrowers think about how energy efficiency can extend the life cycle of their buildings and increase cash flow. TRF believes this is financing that pays dividends.

Several articles stem from a Community Affairs meeting held in Delaware earlier this year. Paul Bradley writes about resident-owned manufactured home communities (MHCs) and describes a successful effort in which 82 residents became owners of their park in Minquadale, DE. Did you know that there are 50,000 MHCs, also known as mobile home parks, in the United States? Would you have guessed that 2,200 of the MHCs are in Pennsylvania, 250 in New Jersey, and 175 in Delaware? It is an interesting story on a type of affordable housing often overlooked.

Two of the articles summarize presentations from the Delaware meeting on lender constraints on Community Reinvestment Act (CRA)-related loans and investments. Dudley Benoit of JPMorgan Chase Bank, Paul Marcus of Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania, Mike Skipper of WSFS Bank, and Joan Brodhead of Community First Fund explained their respective business needs given the current state of the economy. It is clear because of the Great Recession that lenders are reexamining their risk tolerance for all loans and investments, including those that are CRA-related.

If you missed our recent conference, Rethink. Recover. Rebuild: Reinventing Older Communities, which featured Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, look for presentations, audio recordings, and videos on our website. Also, be sure to check out our conference photos. We hope to see you in person next time.