2022 AT A GLANCE
In 2020, Leviticus began developing a lending program that offers a flexible, targeted approach to the intersection of racial and economic equity. Called Empowering Diverse Real Estate Entrepreneurs, or EDREE, the initiative aims to remove historic and contemporary barriers to capital. At the same time, it includes technical assistance to create pathways for people of color to flourish in the business community.
After closing our first EDREE loan in 2021, we continued to pursue lending opportunities in 2022 while listening closely to the needs of prospective borrowers in three virtual roundtable discussions. Here is some of what we learned:
- Collegiality and commitment are key components of success. Opportunities to network are highly valued by the EDREE cohort and will continue to play a role as we develop our program. Mentoring is a vital supplement to training and our goal is to match emerging developers with experienced professionals.
- Long-term solutions require review of historic and current lending practices. While the Leviticus Fund has a long history of providing flexible and patient capital to nonprofits. We have approved special underwriting polices to lend to EDREE for-profits and are being vigilant about uncovering hidden biases as we lend.
- Training must accompany capital to deliver lasting impact. Capital is out there, as most major CDFIs have developed racial equity programs. Unfortunately, smaller, start-up BIPOC-owned businesses and BIPOC-led nonprofits often do not have the skillset to access these programs.
We continue to listen to and learn from the EDREE cohort, as high interest rates contribute to uncertainty in real estate development. As firms position themselves for success in a new period of growth, we have five EDREE loans in underwriting to BIPOC-led organizations totaling over $7 million.
The Leviticus Fund’s lending staff knows that we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. The role we play in EDREE deals will differ from our traditional lending to nonprofits. We are committed to building our capacity to address structural racism within the real estate industry as part of our strategic plan.
Leviticus Fund Honors RUPCO
In the building trades, the cornerstone guides the workers in their course; it is the standard of measure and alignment.
The Leviticus Fund presented its 2022 Cornerstone Award to Kingston-based nonprofit RUPCO and its Chief Executive Officer, Kevin O’Conner, in recognition of its strong leadership and service to Hudson Valley communities.
“Kevin’s vision and creativity and RUPCO’s can-do approach are rooted in a deep respect for local voices,” said Greg Maher, Executive Director of the Leviticus Fund. “Their tremendous community-building achievements in Kingston and the region are a testament to their determination to listen and to work effectively on the ground.”
Since 2017, the Leviticus Fund has made lending commitments of $6,130,000 to RUPCO, creating or preserving 148 affordable or supportive housing units, and helping people in Ulster and Orange Counties. In 2022, Leviticus approved a $3.85 million pre-development/acquisition loan for the purchase of the former Quality Inn on Route 28 in the Town of Ulster for conversion to permanent and emergency affordable housing.
“No one in our community should go homeless, ever,” said Kevin O’Conner. “With Leviticus as a lending partner, we’re doing everything we can to assist our most vulnerable neighbors. It’s a great honor to receive the Cornerstone Award from Leviticus, and I’m pleased to share it with everyone at RUPCO.”