Bank of America Merrill Lynch Community Development Banking (CDB) reported providing a record $4.5 billion in equity and lending in 2015, the most in a single year in its more than 30-year history.

Maria Barry
Maria Barry

CDB helped create more than 14,400 housing units for individuals, families, veterans, seniors, and the previously homeless across the United States, including more than 13,400 units of affordable housing. From 2005 to 2015, the bank financed approximately 180,000 housing units through debt and equity platforms, of which, about 150,000 units are for affordable housing.

The group also completed its single-largest transaction—the San Francisco Rental Assistance Demonstration (SF-RAD). The bank provided $770 million as investor and lender on the deal, which will transform more than 1,400 public housing units at 15 properties into safe and sustainable low-income housing for San Francisco residents. CDB provided a combination of construction debt, permanent debt, tax-credit equity, subordinate forgivable debt, and financing for services for tenants as part of the massive effort. Under the proposal, no existing tenants will be displaced, and affordability will be maintained at existing levels. In addition to safety and aesthetic improvements, other changes will include seismic upgrades and systems, roof, exterior and energy-efficiency updates.

Other significant projects that closed in 2015 include:

· Landing Road Shelter and Apartments—Bowery Residents’ Committee developed this first-of-its-kind project consisting of a 200-bed shelter and 136-unit apartment complex in a single new construction building. With separate entrances, the shelter provides transitional care to single adults who have been employed or are employable, while the apartments house formerly homeless, low-income adults and families. The bank provided an $8.2 million construction loan and $11.2 million letter of credit;

· 65th Infantry Regiment Veterans Housing—Located four miles west of downtown Chicago, this 49-unit new construction supportive housing development sponsored by Hispanic Housing Development Corp. will offer mental health counseling, wellness screenings, transportation, nutritional/financial education, and meals-on-wheels in partnership with Norwegian American Hospital and Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. The bank provided a $7.5 million construction loan, an $11.3 million direct tax credit investment and a $1 million subordinate loan; and

· Achievement Prep: Wahler Place Campus—A combination of an $8.3 million New Markets Tax Credit investment and $21.3 million in debt financing enables the renovation and construction of an expansion to this charter school. Serving 960 largely low-income pre-kindergarten to eighth grade students, the school is one of the highest-performing public charter schools in Washington, D.C. The project is being built to LEED Gold standards.

“In 2015, we focused on projects that make a lasting impact in their communities,” said Maria Barry, CDB national executive, in a statement. “Safe and affordable housing, health care, jobs, education, and community services were just some of the benefits these projects brought to local residents, helping us fulfill our long-standing mission of creating healthy and thriving communities.”

Community Development Banking includes the Banc of America Community Development Corp. (BACDC), which serves as a development partner and provides debt and equity financing for properties in low- and moderate-income communities across the country. In 2015, BACDC was a development partner in affordable housing projects with a total cost of $136 million, including $70 million in completed projects, $43 million under development and more than $23 million in new developments.

Bank of America also said it is the nation’s largest investor in community development financial institutions (CDFI), with more than 240 CDFI partners in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. In 2015, the company completed 14 transactions totaling $123 million in low-cost loans to CDFIs in the U.S. to help finance affordable housing. Bank of America also provided more than $24 million in grants to more than 800 organizations—such as Habitat for Humanity, Local Initiatives Support Corp., and Enterprise Community Partners—that connect individuals and families to affordable housing and homeownership.