Bank of America Merrill Lynch provided more than $1.6 billion in community development lending and investing in the first half of the year, doubling its commitments from the same period in 2012.

The first-half activity will help create more than 6,500 affordable housing units.

The Community Development Banking group’s activities included about $1 billion in commercial real estate lending, up 67 percent from $600 million a year ago. Bank of America Merrill Lynch also made about $664 million in tax credit investments, more than double the nearly $252 million invested during the same period in 2012.

“As these big increases in loans and investments show, demand for affordable housing, charter schools, and other community development projects remains strong,” said Maria Barry, Community Development Banking executive.

In addition to deeper relationships with existing clients, the bank began working with several new developers this year and saw growth in several states, including California, Florida, Maryland, New York, and Texas, according to Barry.

“Finally, we’ve seen more activity in certain types of projects,” she said.  “Our strong support of supportive housing continues to grow as Bank of America Merrill Lynch has used debt and equity to help provide housing for the formerly homeless. We also are increasingly active beyond affordable housing, expanding our commitments with charter schools.”

This year’s commitments include $16.1 million in construction financing and $16.2 million in indirect tax credit equity to develop 69 studio units for formerly homeless people in Los Angeles. The New Pershing project is being developed by Skid Row Housing Trust.

The bank is also providing more than $15.2 million in loans and nearly $24.7 million in housing tax credit equity for the Joe Moretti Apartments, a 116-unit, 13-story building being developed for seniors in Miami by Related Urban.