To Our Members and Friends
We are pleased to share our 2019 accomplishments in this report, though last year feels long ago. Since March, 2020, the coronavirus outbreak has caused sudden and severe health, economic and psychological disruptions for everyone in our nation. The pandemic’s duration remains unclear and, as is often the case, the most harm has fallen on minority communities, the elderly, and people with low incomes and few assets.
The Leviticus Fund has adjusted operations while maintaining our commitment to our mission. We instituted safety measures and transitioned our staff to work remotely. As the virus’ impact continued to emerge, we responded with one eye toward assisting our nonprofit borrowers with maximum openness and flexibility, and another on ensuring we retained cash to meet our obligations and support our viability. That has meant balancing our mission with greater scrutiny of new and existing loans in light of the uncertain environment and new financial pressures on our nonprofits partners.
In 2019, we committed $19.3 million and closed $18.6 million in new loans, and also disbursed $17.4 million, all historically high figures for Leviticus. Our capital supported construction and preservation of 1,385 affordable housing units; the education of 217 children and students in early learning centers and charter public schools; and assistance to over 6,350 individuals served by our economic development and community facility lending. Behind these numbers are individuals and families whose lives will be stabilized, whose early care and education will be enhanced, and whose communities will be strengthened because Leviticus stepped in to fill a gap and allow a project to move ahead.
In November, we were awarded $3.23 million in new grants from the CDFI Fund, the largest aggregate award nationwide. The grants will support our core lending, as well as projects that assist people with disabilities, those living in counties with persistent poverty, and families living in food deserts that lack convenient access to healthy foods. We also fully committed $12 million in capital from our Project Start Fund, which we launched in 2018 to assist projects serving very low-income families in New York State.
2019 also marked the final year of our three-year strategic plan. We are pleased to report that we substantially met or exceeded all five goals. Our Board subsequently extended the goals to 2020-2021 while updating the objectives. Working with our consultant, we also released a 57-page report looking at housing conditions in Yonkers, NY, and made eight policy recommendations to improve the supply of equitable, affordable housing in the city over the long term.
In these unsettled times, Leviticus is determined to continue our work as responsibly as we can. The need for affordable housing and neighborhood stabilization is likely to be even greater as the pandemic slowly recedes. We will be here, ready to serve the nonprofit community as an agent of hope and change, knowing that you are with us, shoulder-to-shoulder, as partners. We are grateful for your faithful support and for your belief in the mission of Leviticus to use faith capital to build communities that promote social justice and equitable opportunities for all.
Rosemary Jeffries, RSM