IFF lending marked a significant milestone on April 28 – more than $50 million in loans closed in the state of Michigan. The loan that put us over the top was $200,000 to Southwest Solutions, a long-time IFF partner and client that has borrowed from IFF multiple times since 2014. This nonprofit developer is a nationally recognized leader in community revitalization projects and has used $1.6 million in IFF financing to acquire and rehab blighted properties throughout Detroit.
“Our neighborhood revitalization efforts all involve strong and innovative partnerships, and the role of IFF has been critical – not only to providing capital, but also in helping to secure the participation of other partners,” says John Van Camp, President and CEO of Southwest Solutions. “Undoubtedly, without IFF’s involvement, some of our major revitalization initiatives in Detroit – which have enabled low- to moderate-income families to move into once-vacant homes that are now beautifully restored – would not have happened.”
Detroit Building Futures is the latest Southwest Solutions project using IFF financing. The project enlists Detroit residents into a training program to help renovate 25 vacant properties into affordable single-family homes.
Community development in the Detroit area comprises the largest portion of IFF lending in Michigan. In addition to the projects by Southwest Housing Solutions, these loans have included:
- Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation– $165,000 to finance a dependable, secure laundromat at the community’s request; and a $1 million loan to renovate the organization’s new headquarters in the North-end;
- Creative Arts – $1.45 million to build 53 units of affordable live/work spaces for artists and their families in Dearborn;
- Detroit Catholic Pastoral Alliance – $285,000 to complete rehab on two affordable housing properties in northeast Detroit; and
- lifeBUILDERS – $118,000 to rehab five single-family homes in the Regent Park Neighborhood;
- Shoppes of Woodward LLC — $1 million to help finance the acquisition of five retail and office buildings that are a critical component of the master development plan for Midtown Detroit.
IFF loans in Michigan have also funded affordable and supportive housing; multi-service nonprofit organizations; and high-quality charter schools in targeted areas. About 80% of IFF’s lending in Michigan is in the Detroit area, with additional lending in Flint, Grand Rapids, and smaller towns throughout the state. For example, IFF provided:
- Dwelling Place of Grand Rapids – $850,000 to finance renovations at three supportive housing locations;
- Flagstar Strand Theatre in Pontiac – $750,000 loan to finance renovations of the historic theater;
- Covenant Academy charter schools in Muskegon and Kalamazoo – $500,000 and $617,500, respectively, to renovate the schools; and
- YWCA of Greater Flint – $320,000 to build-out their new location.
“Michigan nonprofits are doing extraordinary work in communities across the state. One of IFF’s core values is that by investing in nonprofits, we are strengthening the communities served by those nonprofits. I think the breadth and depth of IFF’s lending in Michigan reflects that,” says Kirby Burkholder, IFF Vice President and Executive Director for the Eastern Region. “Even more exciting is the opportunity we’ve had, with strong community and philanthropic support, to go beyond lending in Michigan to provide research and real estate leadership, especially in the early child care and education space in Detroit.”
Early child care and education (ECE) is one of IFF’s areas of expertise. IFF research found that approximately 28,000 children aged 0-5 in Detroit do not have access to a slot in a licensed or registered ECE facility – 45% of which are concentrated in just 10 neighborhoods. With support from The Kresge Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation, IFF is engaging with Detroit’s ECE sector to advocate for prioritizing blended investments in highest-need neighborhoods, invest in facilities and maintenance to improve existing providers, and create new exemplary ECE centers to showcase best practices.
“IFF can best serve when our research, real estate, and lending expertise come together to support nonprofits and communities,” Burkholder says. “We’re proud of our first $50 million in investments, and we will keep working with a tremendous sense of urgency to fill capital gaps and help achieve transformative outcomes in disadvantaged communities.”