Release: Vermont Nonprofit Finance Organizations to Receive $6 Million in Stimulus Funds


BURLINGTON, June 30 -- Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch Tuesday announced that three Vermont nonprofit organizations together will receive $6 million to spur community development and ease consumer credit as further steps on the path to economic recovery.

Sanders said the funding will make it easier for Vermonters to own their first home, start a small business, buy a car, and provide them with the tools they need to make informed financial decisions.  “In the midst of the worst economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression, we need to do everything that we can to improve the economic well-being of Vermonters.  This funding will surely help, but clearly much more must be done to make sure that our economy starts working again for middle-class Vermont families.”

The funds, released through the Community Development Financial Institutions Program, were included in this year’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. 

The Vermont Community Loan Fund of Montpelier, NeighborWorks of Western Vermont of West Rutland and Opportunities Credit Union of Burlington each are receiving $2 million federal grants to fund a small business loan program, expand mortgage products to first-time homebuyers and offer consumers additional credit resources.
 
Leahy, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, had pushed for inclusion of funds. “These economic recovery dollars provide economic leverage that will make a real difference in Main Street communities across Vermont.  These are well-timed and well-designed investments that will help Vermont nonprofit organizations make more loans to small businesses, first-time home buyers and low-income Vermonters.  The Vermont Community Loan Fund, Rutland West Neighborhood Housing Services and Opportunities Credit Union will help put Vermonters to work, help families find homes and create innovative financial solutions for Vermonters struggling to make ends meet.”

“This federal investment in Vermont communities will empower families and small businesses to take the steps they need to move forward during these difficult economic times,” Welch said.  These three Vermont institutions have a track record of success in helping Vermonters purchase homes, develop small businesses and create affordable housing – and the federal economic recovery dollars they are receiving are sure to go a long way.”
Nationwide, 59 organizations in 26 states were receiving a share of the special appropriations of $90 million included in the economic recovery package. 
The Vermont Community Loan Fund, a statewide nonprofit loan fund, will use its $2 million grant to leverage additional loan capital and make an estimated $10 million available for affordable housing developers, small businesses, child care providers and community facilties.  Executive Director Will Belongia said, "This grant of loan capital will provide a tremendous boost to Vermont’s rural economy, allowing VCLF to continue its mission of financing rural businesses, child care providers and the creation and preservation of affordable housing."
 
NeighborWorks of Western Vermont, a nonprofit housing organization serving Rutland, Bennington and Addison Counties, will use its $2 million grant to expand its second mortgage program that helps Vermonters generate a down payment through a low-interest second mortgage totaling 20 percent of a first-time home buyer's home cost.  Executive Director Ludy Biddle said, “These funds will bring enormous benefits to families throughout three counties of Vermont, making it possible for them to keep their homes, or buy a home or make repairs to their homes.  What greater benefit is there than a secure place to live."
 
Opportunities Credit Union, Vermont’s only nonprofit development credit union, will use its $2 million grant to expand financial counseling and loan services to low-income Vermonters.  President Cheryl Fatnassi said, "This grant provides much needed assistance to families facing foreclosure, small  and micro businesses needing additional capital and refugees and immigrants needing savings products or vehicles to get to work.  The grant will allow Opportunities Credit Union to offer counseling and education to ensure Vermonters make it through tough economic times successfully. We are very appreciative of receiving this support."