HAND members are consistently doing what it takes to ensure that individuals and families at all income levels have access to affordable housing in thriving communities. We aim to highlight these efforts with our series titled, “Five Minutes with” – an informal conversation with our members on their recent projects and the affordable housing industry. In the latest installment, we spoke with Jeannine Jacokes, CEO of Partners for the Common Good (PCG). PCG is a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that was “created as a vehicle to allow socially conscious investors to put their money to work serving communities left out of the economic mainstream.” You can read our conversation here:
HAND: Why is affordable housing important to you?
CM: I believe that all people deserve safe, decent housing that is affordable. This includes adults, children, families and people with disabilities living in rental units or owning their own home. Safe and affordable housing alleviates some of the stressors in life that especially low to moderate-income people and communities experience. Housing is one of the building blocks of creating a healthy community as it creates stability for individuals and families. Once an affordable home is secured, in ideal situations, families are able to afford healthy foods and have access to quality healthcare and education. These components are necessary to create economic growth and have vibrant communities.
HAND: What recent accomplishment(s) is your organization extraordinarily proud of?
CM: In 2017, with a small staff, we were able to accomplish so much. We had a great year of originating $12.2 million in total lending and we ended the year with an outstanding portfolio of $26.3 million. 100% of all borrower created benefits for low-income people, 72% of all borrowers were nonprofit organizations committed to economic justice and 96% of all projects financed were located in low-to-moderate income census tracts. With our first ever NMTC allocation, our focus in 2017 was on rolling out this exciting program. To date, we have closed four NMTC projects. We anticipate using the remaining allocation for two projects in 2018. With our CapNexus program, which is an online database, community development practitioners posted a record amount of 55 deal and capital opportunities in 2017. The website has collectively posted over 200 opportunities valued at $1.6 million in opportunities. We are continuing to explore other exciting initiatives for 2018 and beyond. In addition, our staff has participated in retreats and team building exercises that have strengthened our team.
HAND: Have you run into any challenges over the last several months? How did you and your team overcome them?
CM: Having enough capital to meet lending demands has been our biggest challenge in the last several months. In 2017, we had a very robust pipeline and could have easily originated well over $12 million in new lending activity. However, having enough capital in hand to meet this demand was a challenge. We approached this challenge in several ways. We increased our fundraising efforts and were able to increase both our grant and debt capital. We have also been exploring off balance sheet lending models that will be used to meet market demand. In 2018, we continue to be faced with this challenge. We are creating strategies to obtain new capital that can be used to meet our lending demand. This includes outreach to current and new partners. We will continue to explore and look forward to implementing new programs that will result in earned revenue and our improve bottom line.
HAND: What lesson(s) did you learn?
CM: We learned the importance of 1) coming together as a team to solve a problem. The comraderie was great and made us closer and more effective as employees of PCG. 2) The importance of always seeking new opportunities and never being complacent with “that’s the way we’ve always done it” mentally.
HAND: What are you and your colleagues looking forward to?
CM: We are optimistic and looking forward to 2018. This will be a challenging year for us and for our industry. None of us can sit on our laurels. However, it’s important to be optimistic. PCG ended 2017 strong and we have begun 2018 even stronger. We are looking forward to all of the positive possibilities.
HAND: What do you enjoy most about your work and why?
CM: I get to live my values through the work that I do every day. I get to meet, work with and interact with very smart and committed people.
HAND: What do you wish that you could change about our industry?
CM: I would make the community development finance sector more visible. CDFIs do great work and make a big difference across the country. Yet, few people know what we do. That needs to change.
HAND: If you could describe your work in one word, what would it be?
CM: Determined. Determination to make the world a better place fuels the fire that gives me the energy and enthusiasm to get up each morning, and go out into the world for social and economic justice for all!