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Treasury secretary makes stimulus announcement

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Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geitner came to one of the borough’s premier non-profits to announce $90 million in President Obama’s and Congress’ Recovery Act geared toward helping community-based groups.

The announcement of $90 million in awards going to Community Development Financial Institutions committed to serving economically challenged communities and others needing help took place at the The Point Community Development Corporation in Hunts Point on Monday, June 29.

The CDFIs will distribute financial assistance awards to non-profit groups around the Bronx like The Point CDC, which provides artistic programs and vocational training to young people, non-profit housing developer Whedco, and many health care clinics that have a difficult time getting funding from traditional sources like banks.

“The Recovery Act is playing a critical role in restoring economic growth and strengthening our nation’s financial stability by developing and investing in local communities,” said Secretary Geithner. “The Recovery Act awards announced today building on the Administra­tion’s efforts to get lenders lending again–these awards will help generate capital for small businesses, mortgage loans for homebuyers, and funding for affordable housing projects and other facilities.”

CDFI’s are intermediaries which disperse government funding to groups for their programs. The Point CDC receives its funding through Nonprofit Facilities Funding, a CDFI and Recovery Act awardee that received $1.9 million in awards, all of which could benefit Bronx non-profits.

Congressman Jose Serrano sits on the subcommittee in Congress, the House Appropriations subcommittee on financial services and general government, which oversees CDFI funding.

“I have been a strong advocate of the CDFI fund,” said Serrano. “The CDFI’s have an exemplary record of using their funding to offer loans, investments and other financial services in underserved communities. And the effects are magnified, because within this program each dollar awarded leverages an average of fifteen dollars in additional private investments in our disadvantaged communities.”

Serrano said that through the end of 2007, CDFIs have an exemplary record of investing in the Bronx, with 13 different CDFIs making 782 distinct investments totaling $252 million in the borough.

Paloma Izquierdo-Hernandez the president and CEO of Urban Health Plan said that health clinics and programs like the ones she runs rely on CDFIs because oftentimes it is difficult to get funding from banks and other lending institutions.

“Because we are free standing in nature and located in low-income neighborhoods, traditionally we have a very difficult time getting financing from traditional sources,” Izquierdo-Hernandez stated. She praised the funding as an investment in the future of communities around the Bronx and nation.

Geithner’s announcement includes the distribution of the $90 million in financial assistance awards to 59 CDFIs in 26 states and Puerto Rico. The CDFIs will direct the money to vital community groups.

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