As we have discussed many times on the blog, a key factor in what makes CDFIs a vital part of the financial landscape is their ability to meet the unique needs of the markets they serve. Day in and day out, these organizations put their knowledge and resources to work for the benefit of their local communities.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, CDFIs are once again demonstrating how their flexibility and adaptability make them an important asset and partner in times of crisis. As FEMA and disaster relief organizations like the American Red Cross moved quickly to respond to the immediate needs of victims for food, clothing, and shelter, CDFIs have been right behind first responders to provide much need assistance that is helping families and business owners get started on the road to recovery and begin the process of rebuilding what they’ve lost. A recent assessment from the CDFI Fund on how CDFIs have responded to Hurricane Sandy demonstrates just how quick and committed these organizations have been in responding to the urgent needs of their communities. Of the 13 CDFIs who participated in the CDFI Fund’s assessment:
- Not a single respondent stated that the CDFI itself needed help
- Although 10 CDFIs reported they experienced physical damage, 6 remained operational
- Nine respondents stated that they were involved in or providing direct recovery assistance services, or developing disaster loan recovery funds
Also recognizing the important role of CDFIs in Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, Bank of America has committed $20 million to 13 CDFIs to help residents and small businesses get back on their feet. As this recent article from Shelterforce describes, CDFIs are proving to be a key component of Sandy recovery efforts: “If you think about the stages after a disaster, the first is relief…the longer term stage is rebuilding…[but] in between is the recovery phase, where people need more than emergency relief and more than donations, but the structure for long term rebuilding is not yet in place. This is the sweet spot for CDFIs who provide fast and flexible financing.”
Has your CDFI ever responded to local disaster recovery efforts? What role did you play?