Building for the Future at the White Center Food Bank

14 living-wage jobs created or retained

83,000 low-income families assisted

Organization serving low-income families

Located in a high-poverty area

$4.3 million real estate remains locally-owned

$1.2 million other project funds leveraged

When the White Center Food Bank bought a property to be a permanent home, they faced an extensive and expensive construction project. A Craft3 construction loan let them get to work and finance rooftop solar, which qualified them for a 0.5% rate reduction on their entire loan.

In 2021, the White Center Food Bank faced a challenging situation. Their headquarters was going to be redeveloped and they needed to find a new home in a hurry. The food bank, located in a diverse Seattle neighborhood has been a community fixture since the mid-1970s. Their mission is to “to minimize hunger while nourishing community, nurturing self-reliance, and embracing our rich cultural diversity.” 

Fortunately, the White Center Food Bank was able to purchase a building. Almost immediately they faced a new set of challenges, not the least of which was financing what would be a major and costly renovation to make the new space work for them.

Without substantial collateral to pledge, banks were unwilling to lend to the foodbank. Carmen Smith, the food bank’s Executive Director, recalls that one bank wanted them to ask the county to guarantee the loan, while another bank suggested that board members could serve as guarantors. For different reasons, neither of these were viable options.   

Another difficulty the food bank encountered was that the traditional banks they reached out to wanted them to move all their business bank accounts to them as a condition of receiving a loan.  

Carmen explains what happened next. “As we kept striking out with traditional lenders, I came across Craft3. And someone that I work closely with and trust very much recommended Craft3.”   

When Carmen connected with Craft3, she notes, “It felt serendipitous – very much a partnership right from the start. It's clear Craft3 cares a ton about our project and our community.” 

The White Center Food Bank’s construction loan also included financing for a rooftop solar installation. This qualified them for an interest rate reduction on the entire loan and it will mean ongoing savings on utility costs. An additional benefit, according to Carmen was that, “It shows our community, which isn't particularly affluent, that energy efficiency and solar power can be for them too. It isn't just reserved for a certain income bracket.”

Construction projects are notoriously complex and when you add in a loan, grant financing, and a capital campaign there are a lot of moving parts. Carmen appreciated that Craft3 did not balk at this complexity and that they took her questions seriously. “No question was off the table. For me, that was important, especially when you're talking about financing. When you're working with a lender you deserve to have clear answers to all your questions. Craft3 was open and transparent and that was a breath of fresh air.”