The U.S. Treasury awarded more than $22 million to Oregon lenders to help underserved communities. (Photo by Ben Scripps/Pixabay via Canva)

The federal government has awarded seven financial institutions in Oregon a total of $22.3 million in grants to help underserved communities recover from the pandemic.

The money, announced Monday, is part of $1.7 billion awarded to more than 600 institutions nationwide through a U.S. Treasury program to boost recovery among low-income and moderate-income communities that were the hardest hit during the last three years.

The grants are designed to provide capital and financing for small businesses that lack access to capital, promote affordable housing and give families wider access to home loans, all of which were compromised during the pandemic and are crucial for economic prosperity, officials said. 

“When we invest in community lenders, we help build a future where all people – no matter who they are or where they start – have the resources they need not only to succeed but to thrive,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in a Treasury statement.

She said it was the largest nationwide investment in the history of the program, the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, which was created in 1994. 

The grants will help the financial institutions add staff, purchase technology and gain other tools needed to help the community. They had to apply for the money and be approved by the U.S. Treasury.

“These mission-driven financial institutions specialize in delivering responsible capital, credit and financial services to underserved communities,” the Treasury statement said.

Besides helping small businesses, nonprofits and homeowners, the money can be used for community facilities, commercial real estate, financial services and development services for borrowers.

Six of the seven entities in Oregon that were awarded money are credit unions. The other institution is a loan fund, which got the most money. 

The Treasury approved money for these institutions:

  • Craft3, a loan fund in Astoria: $5 million
  • Northwest Community Credit Union in Eugene: $3.7 million
  • Point West Credit Union in Portland: $3.7 million
  • SELCO Community Credit Union in Springfield: $3.7 million
  • Mid-Oregon Federal Credit Union in Bend: $2.5 million
  • Central Willamette Credit Union in Albany: $2.5 million
  • Ironworkers USA Federal Credit Union in Portland: $1.2 million

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Lynne Terry

Lynne Terry, Oregon Capital Chronicle

Lynne Terry has more than 30 years of journalism experience, including a recent stint as editor of The Lund Report, a highly regarded health news site. She reported on health and food safety in her 18 years at The Oregonian, was a senior producer at Oregon Public Broadcasting and Paris correspondent for National Public Radio for nine years. She has won state, regional and national awards, including a National Headliner Award for a long-term care facility story and a top award from the National Association of Health Care Journalists for an investigation into government failures to protect the public from repeated salmonella outbreaks. She loves to cook and entertain, speaks French and is learning Portuguese.