Spokane Journal of Business

B of A helps provide more than $2.6 billion in housing

Community development work last year to create 11,000 affordable units

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Through its lending, tax-credit equity investments, and real estate development programs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch says it last year provided more than $2.6 billion for community development—commitments that it claims will help create nearly 11,000 affordable housing units.

Working with organizations that specialize in affordable housing, Community Development Banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch provided financial resources for developments in several states. The 2012 activity included $1.75 billion in commercial real estate-based lending, up 9 percent from 2011, it says. The company also made $919 million in tax credit investments and other community development equity, up more than 20 percent from the previous year.

Maria Barry, community development banking executive, says, "For more than 30 years, we have valued our commitment to revitalizing communities. Our 2012 performance clearly shows that this commitment remains as strong as ever."

Financing and equity commitments by community development banking include developments for low- and moderate-income families, seniors, and veterans, as well as supportive housing efforts and projects that incorporate green and transit-oriented elements.

In Houston, for example, community development banking is providing nearly $34 million in debt and equity for Justice Park Senior Villas. Developed by Blazer Building Inc., the 144 apartments will be for low- and moderate-income seniors who earn 30 percent to 60 percent of the area median income.

"Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Blazer Building have a long, successful relationship, and this development is another great example," says Chris Richardson, president of Blazer Building. "We are excited about Justice Park Villas and what it will offer seniors, and we appreciate the innovative lending and investing solutions that helped make this project happen."

In Seattle, Bank of America Merrill Lynch is providing more than $7.8 million in loans and $9.6 million in tax credit equity through Enterprise Community Investment for Delridge Supportive Housing, which will have 66 furnished apartments for formerly homelessindividuals and families. The Downtown Emergency Service Center employs a Housing First programbased on the premise that people are more likely to be successful intreatment when they have a stable home.The new four-story building also will offer residents 24-hour staffing and on-site case management provided by DESC.

"Supportive housing is humane, cost effective, and a top priority in the Seattle area. This new development in the Delridge neighborhood will help those living with serious mental illnesses, chemical dependencies, and long-term homelessness," says Bill Hobson, executive director of DESC. "By eliminating the chaos of living on the streets, this project will improve the quality of life for its residents and reduce their use of expensive emergency-response services, benefiting the broader community."

Community development banking also is providing $24.5 million in debt and equity for Concern Amityville, which will have 60 apartments for formerly homeless veterans in Long Island, N.Y. Located on a former U.S. Army Reserve site, the development by Concern for Independent Living will provide residents with comprehensive support services and counseling.

"This commitment will be invaluable for helping veterans who are in need of safe, affordable housing," says Ralph Fasano, executive director of Concern for Independent Living. "Bank of America Merrill Lynch has been a key part of the project team, providing the right financial solutions to help move this much-needed development forward."

Bank of America Merrill Lynch has provided financing for more than 114,000 units during the past eight years. Community development banking includes the Bank of America Community Development Corp., which serves as a development partner and provides equity and tax-credit guarantees, as well as financing for properties in low- and moderate-income communities nationwide.

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