NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED NONPROFIT-FOCUSED LENDER OPENS CLEVELAND OFFICE
IFF is Ohio’s first nonprofit real estate consultant focusing exclusively on under-resourced nonprofit industry, helping finance and advise the agencies making social impact
CLEVELAND – May 18, 2023 – Area nonprofits working every day to uplift their communities and bolster the economy often are unable to access traditional bank loans and get expert consulting on their real estate needs. The presence of a unique, experienced lender with a Cleveland office will ensure under-resourced nonprofits have access to financing and property development expertise.
Headquartered in Chicago, nonprofit lender IFF is stepping up its commitment to offer equitable support for stronger communities by opening a Cleveland office, boosting its presence in Ohio. IFF is one of the largest nonprofit Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) in the Midwest.
Community and economic development professional Meg Slifcak has been hired by IFF as Director of Real Estate Solutions – Ohio, based in the new Cleveland office.
“Cleveland and Ohio have such a rich variety of nonprofits,’’ said Slifcak. “Our goal is to help nonprofits – such as those in early childhood education, affordable housing, health care, community development, arts and culture – expand their work by providing loans and real estate consulting services that are deeply needed but not offered by others.”
Helping nonprofit organizations overcome biggest challenges
Slifcak said acquiring funds for capital improvement projects is just part of the challenge nonprofits face to successfully meet their missions. For many charitable organizations, some of the biggest obstacles can be figuring out when and how they need to build, buy, or renovate their spaces.
Now nonprofits will have more help in making those difficult decisions. IFF will offer technical assistance on issues such as managing deferred maintenance, deciding whether they should own or lease facilities, and representing the agencies during construction.
While the office is new, IFF has been working in the region and state for some time. Since 2014, IFF has closed 30 loans providing nearly $20 million to Cleveland-area organizations. Statewide, IFF has provided nearly $70 million in more than 90 loans to Ohio nonprofits. IFF also has an office in Columbus.
PRE4CLE is one nonprofit partnering with IFF
In Cleveland, IFF provides real estate consulting work for PRE4CLE, which is focused on helping child care and Head Start providers renovate their early learning facilities by offering grants, technical assistance, and professional development so their spaces are welcoming, safe, and supportive places for children to learn and grow.
“IFF’s deep expertise is especially critical because Ohio does not have a dedicated program to support facility improvements for early childhood education centers, many of which are operating in storefronts and buildings that were not intended to be learning spaces for small children,” said Katie Kelly, PRE4CLE executive director.
IFF has been doing work with PRE4CLE since 2020 helping them to design and implement an initiative that aims to improve and renovate more than 150 early learning centers and homes in the city of Cleveland.
Most IFF loans avoid appraisals, which often undervalue property
Unlike other lenders, the majority of IFF’s loans don’t require appraisals in determining the amount it is willing to lend to nonprofits.
IFF considers appraisal-based lending as an instrument of systemic racism, or redlining. While overt redlining by banks was outlawed in the federal 1968 Fair Housing Act, property values in many communities affected by those practices remain low, causing some nonprofits to struggle to get loans for even 75 percent of costs for building or renovating their undervalued property. That means it can cost nonprofits more to build or renovate facilities in under-resourced communities.
Another point of distinction is that IFF makes loans for up to 95 percent of project costs while other lenders will typically lend just 75 percent of costs.
IFF does not compete with other CDFIs but collaborates to lift neighborhoods up
Chris Uhl, executive director for IFF’s Eastern Region of Ohio and Michigan said “IFF is looking forward to working even more with Ohio nonprofits, the public sector, and other like-minded partners such as Cleveland Development Advisors, Cleveland Housing Network, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, Enterprise Community Partners, Housing Partnership Network, LISC, National Development Council, and others.”
IFF’s Cleveland office will be opening with a staff of four and has plans to add employees in the near future. Slifcak has extensive experience in community development and affordable housing and previously worked as deputy director of Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization in Cleveland. The Cleveland office is also supported by Jeff Ramsey, IFF asset manager for affordable housing, who has a 40-year career in housing and community development and was formerly executive director of Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization.
“IFF is bringing equity and justice by bringing capital and real estate consulting to under-resourced communities,” said Chris Uhl. “There is a deep need for it in the nonprofit ecosystem and no one else does it.”
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