“There’s a fallacy about Connecticut,” says Darcy Arcand. “Yes, it does have the highest per capita income in United States. But, she says, many people don’t realize that our state was the only state identified in the most recent census with a rising poverty rate. Connecticut is among the top six jurisdictions nationally with extreme peaks and valleys in income.”
Arcand, the Development Director of Capital for Change (C4C) is working to change that.
C4C was formed in 2016 through the merger of three existing organizations and has grown to be the largest full-service Community Development Financial Institution in Connecticut. It seeks to broaden access to affordable housing, promote energy efficiency and create job opportunities for underserved communities.
C4C has made approximately $33 million in loans creating or preserving 1,879 affordable housing units, 382 jobs and removed enough carbon dioxide from the environment to equal to the removal of 650 passenger cars from the roads.
C4C places a great deal of time and energy in promoting energy efficiency. Arcand notes that a lot of the housing stock in Connecticut is quite old and many beautiful homes have gone into disrepair. “We have proved that a lot of expenses will be reduced by bringing energy efficiency to low-income homes,” she said.
Arcand also said her agency is particularly proud of having raised more than $1 million in social impact investments since April 1, 2019 and that interest in impact or socially responsible investing is growing.
“We are very, very tied to the faith community,” she said. “There is a natural organic alliance among progressive people of faith.”
C4C works with local churches, such as the Episcopal Church and Quakers, and many individuals associated with religious groups have made small but meaningful investments from $1,000 to $10,000. RCIF and C4C have worked directly together since 2017. “A lot of proposals we make to religious organizations are based on RCIF’s work”, said Arcand. “They are trailblazers in this growing investment arena”.
New Way Homes
“It’s a tragedy.” That’s how Sibley Simon characterizes the affordable housing crisis in the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Areas.
Sibley, president of New Way Homes, has seen firsthand the suffering that goes on when people can’t find a place to live. “More people are getting out of long-term homeless situations, but more people are becoming homeless. There just isn’t enough housing.”
Simon’s organization is just four years old and is based in Santa Cruz. It seeks to fuel new construction of low- and moderate-income rental housing from Salinas to Santa Cruz to Oakland.
New Way Homes relies on churches and other mission driven groups – like RCIF – to help reach its goals. In the short time it has been around, New Way Homes has invested $7 million in new, affordable housing. “Our mission is to create housing without using public subsidies for construction,” he said. “What’s needed is getting new sources of capital.”
New Way Homes attracts investors by offering a reasonable but limited return on investment. “We are responsible to investors to a point, but our main purpose is ‘How do we do more for housing?”
New Way Homes is currently working on 10 housing projects, two of which are set to begin construction this spring. One is in Santa Cruz and will provide seven units of permanent supportive housing for formerly chronic homeless individuals. The second project, being done in Oakland in conjunction with a local church, will create 12 work-live units.
Simon said RCIF is one of the first non-profit organizations to have invested with New Way Homes. “It is my belief that anyone doing impact investing, whether it’s big corporations or foundations, has to know what they are looking for and have very strong principals. They need a strong understanding of what’s going on, but they also should not be burdensome to the nonprofit group trying to do their work. RCIF has maintained an impressive balance that has a track record of success.”