Portfolio Partner Profile
New Hampshire Community Loan Fund
The New Hampshire Community Loan Fund turns investments from individuals and institutions into loans and education that create opportunity and transform the lives of people with low and moderate incomes. Collaborating with a wide range of business, nonprofit, and government partners, the Community Loan Fund provides the support people need to have and keep affordable housing, quality jobs and child care, and to become financially independent. This support includes providing loans, capital, and technical assistance, complementing and extending the reach of conventional lenders and public institutions, and bringing people and institutions together to solve problems.
Through FY 2021, the Community Loan Fund has provided more than $357 million in direct financing, leveraging a total project value of more than $800 million. The Community Loan Fund has provided 139 resident-owned manufactured-home communities with financing and technical assistance and has financed nearly 10,200 units of affordable housing. Its loans have created or preserved 3,870 jobs and 4,465 child care and school spaces.
Featured Impact Story
A thriving Country Day School
It was almost lights-out at Country Day School.
Last December, Sandra Cabrera learned that a lease dispute had the child care center in Colebrook, N.H. in imminent danger of closing. An attorney and mother of 3- and 1-year-olds who attend the school, Sandra immediately knew her options-and those of the other families-were going to be limited.
She was about to find out how limited.
The only other Colebrook center licensed for infants and toddlers was at or near capacity. The public school's preschool was full. The next closest child care center, a little over a half-hour away, is usually full as well.
"If Country Day School closed, from the Canadian border to over an hour south there would be one small center that was full. That's all that was available for children under 3 years old," Sandra says.
So she engaged the center's owner and its landlord in finding a way to keep the school open. They finally agreed to sell the real estate and the business to a nonprofit that would run it.
As the clock ticked toward the school's closure, Sandra met with center directors, state officials, and others, and learned how financially precarious the child care business is.
When the school's director left on short notice in early March, Sandra asked teacher Kate Ryder on Friday to step up as director the following Monday. They needed a state waiver because Kate didn't yet have the required credentials.
The child care community rallied around saving the school. Although the new nonprofit had no money with which to buy the business and real estate, and a director with no management experience, the Community Loan Fund expedited financing, and connected the center with a child care management consultant.
"We wouldn't have succeeded without them," Sandra says. "They financed us on terms we could afford, helped us lower our operating costs, and provided stability and security."
The school now offers more day and hour options for families. It reduced the cost of its infant care. Teachers got a small raise and access to a matched-savings program. Two teachers were added. It won a grant that will pay for renovating the building and training teachers.
The lights stayed on. And Country Day School is thriving.
Photo Credit: Kate and Keith Photography | Courtesy of New Hampshire Community Loan Fund
ReVision works to add good green-economy jobs and help nonprofits and businesses save money with solar
The long-term benefit of solar energy is enormous; it is a free fuel source that can generate both electricity and heat with fewer greenhouse gases than other sources. It's also a solution that has been out of reach for organizations like nonprofits, schools, churches, and municipalities that don't qualify for tax credits and other incentives that can halve the expense of the equipment and installation. ReVision Energy, along with the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund and a handful of investors, is working to bring solar power to the community organizations that could most benefit from it. This year, the Community Loan Fund became the first lender in ReVision Solar Impact Partners (RSIP), helping finance solar projects for five N.H. organizations. It uses a complex financial structure in which investors in a project get the tax benefits and the nonprofit host organization gets the benefits of clean, cheap, energy. Dan Weeks, ReVision's Director of Market Development, calls the projects "energy endowments."
One example is Mascoma Meadows Cooperative in Lebanon. ReVision installed a solar array at the resident-owned community which is saving each household close to $270 annually. Dan says the Community Loan Fund partnership is a natural fit. "The two organizations' missions are so aligned. The Community Loan Fund supports more sustainable job growth, living-wage jobs, environmental conservation, economic sustainability for nonprofits and businesses, and ReVision works to add good green-economy jobs and help nonprofits and businesses save money with solar."
ReVision is owned by its 250-plus employees, and recently launched a paid family and medical leave plan that it hopes will be an industry model. It also has opened a state-approved apprenticeship school to make it easier for young people learning the trades to have their coursework delivered both online and in person and tailored to their work schedules.
Dan said its collaboration with the Community Loan Fund is a strong selling point for ReVision. Nonprofits and potential investors see that connection as proof that ReVision has "established partners that really know finance and really know N.H.," he said. "That has added to our credibility, supported our growth, and allowed us to hire more employee-employers," Dan said.
Photo Credit: Kate and Keith Photography | Courtesy of New Hampshire Community Loan Fund
“For me, community means wanting to offer diversity, but also how welcoming this community has been.”
“It’s more than a business. It’s more than a restaurant. It’s a cultural connection.”
Yahso Jamaican Grille on Keene’s Main Street is all that, and more. Thanks to owner Gail Somers’s vision of uniting people around food and culture, and her wish to share her love of her native cuisine and of her adopted city, the restaurant offers haven and celebration set to Caribbean rhythms. Yahso opened in 2019 and was a learning experience. Gail calls it her “test kitchen,” in which she learned which Jamaican dishes brought her customers back, and which to adapt for American tastes. She learned about the holiday and school cycles that affect Keene’s Main Street businesses.
She also learned not only that Keene had an appetite for Black food and culture, but that customers traveled from throughout Southern N.H. and even Western Mass. for it.
After one year, she had a choice: She could expand her 20-seat restaurant or lease a larger and more visible space three blocks away. Conversations with the Community Loan Fund turned into a loan that helped her move.
“I immediately thought you were different. When we talked it was about: What does your business need? I got a sense that there was a partnership, beyond just a financial partnership,” Gail says. She also knew she’d need other resources as her business grew.
Yahso moved to the new location in June 2020, just after the pandemic hit, and sit-down dining was shut off. Gail was an early user of online ordering and delivery services, which kept Yahso going until seated dining was allowed. There were months when she wondered if she’d done the right thing, but as the only Main Street business owner of color and offering Black culture, she says, she felt a community responsibility.
That responsibility extends well beyond Yahso’s walls. Gail is on the local YMCA board and heads up its social justice committee. She volunteers on the city’s ad hoc racial justice committee, which has recommended ways Keene can become more welcoming and diverse, and on the statewide Business Alliance for People of Color.
“That's my passion—using whatever outlet, whether it's the business, my professional background, work on a committee to move the needle on creating a more diverse and welcoming environment,” she says. “Because I love my Keene community.”
Photo Credit: Jenn Bakos Photography | Courtesy of New Hampshire Community Loan Fund
The most affordable housing option in New Hampshire
Too often, affordable-housing discussions in New Hampshire leave out the most affordable housing option: Manufactured homes.
Manufactured homes are one-story houses built in factories to federal building code and trucked to house lots for installation. They’re incredibly affordable, regardless of whether you compare their cost to conventional houses or to rent a similarly sized apartment.
The median sales price of a conventional home in N.H. passed $400,000 earlier this year. The cost of a brand-new manufactured home is usually less than $100,000.
Former renters who buy a manufactured home save, on average, about $500 a month. “You’re saving about $6,000 a year by owning your own home. That’s real money in your pocket every month,” says Jennifer Hopkins, our Vice President of Lending. Plus, buyers of new manufactured homes can select features like open-concept floor plans, energy-efficient appliances, granite countertops, spa-like bathrooms, flooring choices, even dog-washing stations.
Jen helped design homes for one of our projects and says she loves watching people’s reactions when they first tour a manufactured home.
“The most common thing I hear is: ‘I didn’t think it was going to be this nice!’ When people see the quality, see the energy features, see the kitchen design … you can pick your colors, pick your carpet, pick the front porch that is big enough to have your cup of coffee in the morning. It feels like home.”
If the home is in a resident-owned community (ROC), the advantages also include the stability of cooperative land ownership—your community won’t be sold to a predatory owner—plus house lots that are smaller and easier to care for and a voice in how the cooperative is managed and maintained.
The advantages of putting new homes on empty lots in ROCs ripple out from the homeowners. ROC’s budgets improve when more homeowners pay monthly lot rent (the fee for using the house lot). Neighborhoods with new homes are more appealing for potential residents. And community life is enhanced when potential new volunteers and leaders move in. The town or city where the ROC is located collects more real estate tax revenue without providing significantly more services.
Photo Credit: Kelly Fletcher Photography | Courtesy of New Hampshire Community Loan Fund