Community Finance | November 19, 2020

LISC looks to “10X” investment in closing racial wealth gaps

Amy Cortese
ImpactAlpha Editor

Amy Cortese

ImpactAlpha Nov. 19 – The Local Initiatives Support Corp. wants to scale up the response to addressing persistent disparities in wealth, health and economic opportunity. The community lender’s new Project 10X seeks to raise $1 billion in grants and low-interest loans to invest in Black businesses and communities over the next decade.

LISC is seeding the initiative with $20 million, half of which is drawn from a recent donation from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. It hopes to raise the rest from investors and philanthropic organizations.

The initiative was announced at a discussion on the role of affordable housing in wealth-building hosted by the Clinton Foundation on Thursday.

“If we’re going to have any chance to materially attack the racial, health, wealth and opportunity gaps in America, homeownership has to be one of the centerpiece strategies,” said LISC’s Maurice Jones, who spoke with former president Bill Clinton and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro.

Home ownership rates for Blacks were about 41% in 2019, compared to 76% for white Americans. That was before COVID ravaged many communities.

“I think we have to get much more ambitious as a country, private sector and public sector,” said Jones, pointing to tools like downpayment assistance, forgivable loans, housing and financial literacy counseling, repair and rehab support, and brining down construction costs.

Castro advocated for tax credits that support renters as well as prospective homeowners.

LISC’s 10X initiative will focus on four priorities that address the legacy of racial discrimination:  

·  Generating lasting equity and wealth through homeownership and small business ownership

·  Building credit and savings and strengthen financial institutions led by Black, Indigenous and people of color

·  Investing in community health, digital access, education, arts, and justice

·  Supporting quality jobs with good wages and benefits

Says Jones: “My hope is that people recognize the fierce urgency of now, at this moment when we’ve got a health pandemic, recession and a racial reckoning, and decide to be bold and ambitious and join our efforts or join other efforts.”