N.H. Loan Fund wins home $5.5m national honor

The New Hampshire Community Loan Fund has been named the winner of the prestigious and lucrative 2009 Wachovia NEXT Award for Opportunity Finance.

The Wachovia NEXT Awards, a joint effort of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Opportunity Finance Network and the Wachovia Foundation, recognize excellence among community development financial institutions, or CDFIs, that serve low-income people and communities. The awards were established to spotlight how the institutions benefit the nation’s economy.

The award comes with a $500,000 grant and a $5 million low-cost loan, designed to further boost the Loan Fund’s efforts “in innovative financing program for manufactured housing mortgage loans, which has the potential to change mortgage financing in the manufactured home sector across the U.S.,” the award panel said in announcing the honor.

The organization also was cited for its mortgage loan program, which has a less than one-half of one percent default rate.

Since 1984, the Loan Fund has enabled 93 manufactured housing communities in New Hampshire to convert to resident ownership. The organization also has financed more than 1,400 loans totaling more than $100 million and leveraging more than $348 million, to build housing, create jobs and support services like child care and community facilities.

This was the third year the Loan Fund applied for the award. Previous tries brought home status as a semi-finalist and a finalist, but no award.

This year was different, and the award comes at a particularly important time, said Loan Fund President Juliana Eades. “The Wachovia NEXT Award is not just tremendous affirmation of our work. The $5 million loan will allow us to keep expanding our lending amid the current market contractions and uncertainty.”

The Loan Fund was selected for the award among CDFIs with greater than $50 million in assets.

According to Alan Cantor, vice president of philanthropy for the Loan Fund, “close to 100 percent of our capital has already been deployed in the community, so this award gives us the ability to take advantage of the opportunities that are out there,” he added.

Kentucky-based Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises will receive a $2.75 million award for CDFIs with assets between $10 million and $50 million.

“We congratulate the Community Loan Fund and FAHE on their exceptional accomplishments in helping to transform under-served communities,” said Michael Rizer, executive vice president of Wachovia, a division of Wells Fargo Company. — CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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