LISC Kalamazoo is looking for area nonprofits that may qualify for community development funds

A Way Home — Housing Solutions: This story is part of Southwest Michigan Second Wave's series on solutions to homelessness and ways to increase affordable housing. It is made possible by a coalition of funders including the City of Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo County, the ENNA Foundation, Kalamazoo County Land Bank, and LISC.

Nonprofit organizations working to develop affordable housing, support small businesses, or provide workforce development services have the opportunity to get more financial help for their projects through the Local Initiatives Support Corp.
 
LISC-Kalamazoo will be the conduit for hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding through the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 4 Program. That program is officially titled the Capacity Building for Affordable Housing and Community Development Program.
 
Along with Habitat for Humanity International and Enterprise Community Partners Inc., LISC partners with the U.S. Department of Housings and Urban Development to administer the Section 4 Program.“HUD Section 4 is a specific pool of money to increase nonprofits’ capacity to do their work in specific areas,” says Beth Romeo, the assistant program officer at LISC Kalamazoo.
 
Those areas are:
 
• Workforce development -- Workforce training programs for in-demand jobs, and job-placement services for living wage/family-sustaining employment;
 
• Housing development and preservation – including the rehabilitation of existing properties or the development new, single- and multi-family housing;
 
• Small business supports – including such things as micro-lending support particularly to BIPOC-owned businesses, those owned by other under-represented businesses, and programs that facilitate low- or no-interest loans to small businesses that wouldn’t necessarily be supported by traditional means. BIPOC is an acronym for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color;
 
• Other community development capacity - Support for other community development activities will be considered. However, the priority areas described above will
receive preference.
 
LISC is asking nonprofit organizations (those designated as 501(C)3 and 501(C)4 organizations) to apply for the funding to learn if they qualify. Applications must be made between May 16 and May 27, 2022. Interested organizations must complete an online form is available here
 
LISC is the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, whose Kalamazoo branch is part of a national nonprofit organization focused on community development.
 
“This is a kind of a new approach for us,” says Romeo, who focuses on program capacity support and communications at LISC-Kalamazoo. “We are doing this all-call because we want to reach more partners in the community. And we want people to self-identify if they are eligible. Then we can work with those partners to see if they’re ready for this funding.”
 
Although she says she did not immediately know how much funding will be allocated in Kalamazoo, she expects a limited pool of money. According to information provided by LISC, each grant will be no less than $25,000 and the “all-call” for applications should give LISC a chance to learn about projects of which it is not aware.
Executive Director Zac Bauer says LISC committed $255,000 in HUD Section 4 capacity grants to Kalamazoo organizations during 2021. 
“In our nearly 35-year history, LISC Kalamazoo has invested over $135 million to support community development initiatives in under-resourced neighborhoods, including deploying HUD Section 4 resources for over 20 years,” says LISC Executive Director Zac Bauer. “In 2021, LISC committed $255,000 of HUD Section 4 capacity grant support to five agencies undertaking neighborhood-based community development projects, including the creation and preservation of affordable housing, support for small business growth, and expansion of access to equitable childcare services.”
 
Funding is being used to support neighborhood associations and other community-based organizations such as El Concilio and YWCA Kalamazoo. More specifically, it has been used to support such things as the home-owner repair program provided by Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing Services, the business incubator efforts of Can-Do Kalamazoo (formerly the Can-Do Kitchen), and the housing development and workforce development programs run by the Northside Association for Community Development.
 
Bauer says Section 4 funding has been used to leverage additional support from the City of Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo County, and other philanthropic resources “to help make Kalamazoo a better place to live, work and raise families.”
 
The HUD funding will not directly pay for the work they are doing, Romeo explains. She says, “The HUD dollars are supporting the capacity for those nonprofits to do the work. “We’re funding operational costs like partial salary and fringes.”
 
HUD Section 4 capacity grant support is to be used for operational costs associated with an agency’s specific project. According to LISC, those costs cannot include “brick and mortar” expenses, although physical production may be an intended outcome of a project. Eligible costs may include:
 
• Consultant Costs – Such as strategic planning, financial management, asset management, property management, board governance, staff professional development, data tracking, and performance measurement; and
 
• Other operational costs – Such as rent, utilities, office supplies, office materials, and equipment under $5,000.
 
Along with Habitat for Humanity International and Enterprise Community Partners Inc., New York-based LISC partners with HUD to administer the Section 4 Program.
 
“This opportunity is for established nonprofits in the community that are doing these various supports (projects),” Romeo says. “… This is not for start-up organizations. It’s not for individuals. It’s not for sole proprietors. It’s for nonprofits that specifically work in housing development, small business support, and workforce development.”

 

Read more articles by Al Jones.

Al Jones is a freelance writer who has worked for many years as a reporter, editor, and columnist. He is the Project Editor for On the Ground Kalamazoo.