Since our inception in 2004, we have focused on the production of affordable housing by approaching our mission in three ways: financing housing, providing technical assistance, and raising awareness of housing as a critical community issue. Last year, we broadened our mission, seeking to create viable, sustainable communities by financing housing while supporting the fundamental needs of underserved neighborhoods. While affordable housing will remain our priority, we now finance projects including healthy food retail, community facilities, and community businesses.

Join us for a four-part series that examines the relationship between housing and our three new focus areas of lending. While at first glance they may seem worlds apart, each one plays an important role in creating vibrant, sustainable communities.

Healthy Food
Access to healthy, affordable food continues to be a struggle for many Americans. According to the Food Research and Action Center, one in six Americans reported that in 2012, there were times they didn’t have enough money to buy food that they or their families needed. Looking at the rates of food hardship, the study identifies the Southeast as the hardest hit region (tied with the Southwest). One in five South Carolinians reported the inability to afford enough food. Food insecurities are often times linked to low-income neighborhoods with limited access to healthy food options.

Community Business
There is a strong correlation between affordable housing and job creation. The Center for Housing Policy recognizes that the development of affordable housing increases spending and employment in the surrounding economy, acts as an important source of revenue for local governments, and reduces the likelihood of foreclosure and its associated costs. Each CLF affordable housing loan not only creates housing units, it creates jobs. Since 2004, CLF’s loan programs have created 3,295 jobs on the local level.

Community Facilities
Community centers create a sense of place, particularly in low-income communities that often times require residents to travel long distances in order to access services. Day care, health and senior citizen centers, as well as homeless shelters and transitional housing, offer resources that enhance the quality of life, both socially and economically.

Over the next three weeks, we will take a closer look at how each of these community assets build upon the work of CLF. First up, the relationship between housing and healthy food.

To learn more about CLF’s lending programs, please contact Patrick King at patrick@sccommunityloanfund.org.