JPMorgan Chase awards $5 million to three Portland CDFIs

By: Matthew Kish - Oct 27, 2020
Source: Portland Business Journal

Three local nonprofits have received a $5 million, three-year grant from JPMorgan Chase that will be used to address ongoing disparities in housing and small-business lending, part of the New York-based bank’s $500 million, five-year economic opportunity initiative called AdvancingCities.

The nonprofits: Craft3, Network for Oregon Affordable Housing and Community Housing Fund. Each is a community development financial institution, or "mission-driven financial institution."

The organizations will use the money to make investments in affordable housing and small-businesses, primarily in three areas undergoing rapid growth and gentrification: North and East Portland and along the proposed light-rail line in Southwest Portland. 

The investments will prioritize residents and small business owners, particularly Black, Indigenous, Latinx and Asian and Pacific Islanders, at risk of displacement.

The organizations think they can leverage the $5 million to get additional debt financing and build 250 affordable housing units. They also want to make small-business loans and loans to homeowners for income-generating accessory dwelling units.

“The goal here is to try and create a foothold that will be solid for some of these communities that are otherwise at risk of displacement,” said Craft3 CEO Adam Zimmerman. 

Small-business lending could take the form of capital for real estate, capital equipment or tenant improvements. 

“We’re going to target BIPOC business owners and low-income business owners,” Zimmerman said. 

Two weeks ago, the Business Journal reported on significant ongoing disparities in access-to-capital for business owners of color. Among other findings, the reporting noted an 84 percent drop in U.S. Small Business Administration loans to Black-owned businesses since it peaked before the 2008 financial crisis.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has said AdvancingCities is not “traditional philanthropy,” but is more about city-wide economic recovery. 

The bank views the work as experimental. It hopes to develop approaches to housing, small-business lending and workforce development that can be exported to other cities. 

“This is going to be organic to some extent,” Craft3’s Zimmerman said. “We don’t know what’s going to pop when. That’s the nature of the real estate market.” 

During a visit to Portland in 2018, Dimon said the bank is more likely to invest when local groups are on the same page. 

“One of the lessons we've learned is if local nonprofits and civic institutions and government aren't aligned, we won't get involved,” he said. “At all. If it's not being done right, we're not going to do it.”

The bank received 150 proposals for this round of funding. Seven cities received funding. Craft3, Network for Oregon Affordable Housing and Community Housing Fund applied in January.

The collaboration between the organizations impressed the bank.

“As somebody who lives in the Portland area, to see this type of collaboration…to tackle multiple issues is awesome,” said Michael Hurley, Chase’s head of the Portland market. “The collaboration is great.”

The organizations are required to report back to the bank about what works and what doesn’t work.

The bank wants to encourage more collaboration between financial institutions, nonprofits and civic organizations.

"The cross-sector partnerships that I've witnessed and been a part of in Portland are unique," said Cat Martin, JPMorgan Chase's Pacific Northwest program officer for corporate responsibility. "The partnerships and collaboration in Portland have been very rewarding and something I'd like to see in every market."

Chase ranks No. 4 in deposits in the Portland area, according to the latest data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. It holds $7.4 billion, or roughly 11 percent, of local deposits.