FirstBank Commits $60 Million to Support Affordable Housing Initiatives Across Colorado
Bank partners with Habitat for Humanity Colorado and Impact Development Fund to strengthen communities through homeownership amid economic challenges
LAKEWOOD, Colo., Sept. 29, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — FirstBank, one of the nation’s largest privately held banks with a focus on “banking for good,” announced a $60 million commitment to help mitigate the affordable housing crisis in Colorado. The bank pledged $30 million in support to both Habitat for Humanity (Habitat) and Impact Development Fund (IDF), two nonprofit organizations dedicated to developing and preserving affordable homes and communities.
As part of its commitment, FirstBank will purchase a total of $60 million in mortgages from both Habitat and IDF, providing needed capital to these organizations, so they can, in turn, build and preserve more homes and communities for low-income families.
This comes at a critical time when economic effects of COVID-19 has made homeownership even less obtainable for many Coloradoans, who were already feeling the financial burdens of the state’s affordable housing crunch. According to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, about 280,000 Coloradans are “severely burdened,” meaning at least 50 percent of their income goes toward housing.
“Colorado already had an affordable housing crisis, and then the pandemic hit,” said Jim Reuter, CEO of FirstBank. “Unfortunately, the growing need for affordable housing options has only increased as we navigate through extraordinary times. We’re hopeful this commitment will put owning a home within reach for many Coloradoans, and positively impact hundreds of deserving families across the state.”
So far, the bank has purchased $15 million in mortgages from Habitat, best known for its affordable homeownership program; building strength, stability and self-reliance through housing. Habitat Vail Valley’s Elyse Howard, one of many affiliates utilizing the program shared, “The FirstBank Loan Purchase program has been critical to Habitat Vail Valley’s ability to increase our local home building capacity. This generous new commitment of $60 million from FirstBank will go a long way toward helping Coloradoans achieve housing stability.”
FirstBank also recently began purchasing mortgages from IDF, a nonprofit that connects organizations across the state with the development financing and technical assistance needed to create, rehabilitate and preserve housing for low to moderate income residents. This will enable the organization’s affiliate partners, which include local Habitat chapters, to significantly increase financing capacity for affordable housing initiatives.
“The pandemic has compounded the equity gap for many families in our state and we are likely to see the lingering impact of that for many months to come,” said Sean Doherty, Executive Director of Impact Development Fund. “FirstBank’s swift action has already kept the security of homeownership within reach for families throughout Colorado and, as we start to shift our focus to the long-term impact of the pandemic, we’re grateful to be able to continue this important work alongside FirstBank and Habitat for Humanity.”
“It has been a game changer,” said Cheri Witt-Brown, Executive Director of Greeley-Weld Habitat for Humanity. “We have been able to triple our capacity in one year through Impact Development’s partnership. This fiscal year we will build and close 15 homes.”
FirstBank’s commitment goes beyond pledging funds. The bank is recognized as one of the most philanthropic companies in Colorado, donating nearly $5 million to charitable organizations last year and around $70 million since 2000. Habitat and IDF also join a growing roster of affordable housing providers supported by FirstBank. In 2019, the bank invested over $156 million into affordable housing and down payment assistance programs.
FirstBank began providing banking services in Colorado in 1963. Today, the bank maintains more than $20 billion in assets and operates more than 110 branch locations across Colorado, Arizona and California. FirstBank offers a variety of checking accounts, savings accounts, home equity loans, mortgages, and a full range of commercial banking services, including financing, treasury management and deposit accounts. Since 2000, FirstBank has been recognized as a leader in corporate philanthropy, contributing nearly $70 million and thousands of volunteer hours to charitable organizations. The company is also unique in that a large portion of its stock is owned by management and employees, giving employees a financial stake in the bank’s success through its Employee Stock Ownership Program. For more information, visit www.efirstbank.com.
About Habitat for Humanity of Colorado
Habitat for Humanity builds safe, decent affordable homes to for low income families who purchase the home with an affordable mortgage. Twenty-five Habitat for Humanity affiliates across Colorado are building in 45 communities, and to date have built over 3,000 homes in partnership with families who would otherwise be unable to obtain the security, stability, and hope that homeownership can provide. For more information about Habitat for Humanity, please visit www.habitatcolorado.org.
About Impact Development Fund
IDF is recognized as a community-based 501c3 organization with a mission to create economic opportunity by delivering flexible capital to strengthen underserved Colorado communities. Certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as a community development financial institution, IDF embodies the concept of public-private partnership through our investor network that includes banks, foundations, private interests, local and federal government. Our constituents reside in all 64 counties of the state, while our focus targets the creation, rehabilitation and preservation of housing that is attainable to residents earning less than the area median income.