To assist affordable housing providers and their residents through the COVID-19 pandemic, Merritt Community Capital recently worked with its investors to make donations to each of its project partners, providing assistance to nearly 16,000 people across California.

“At Merritt, we lead with mission, it’s the belief that drives everything we do. It is as important to us to invest in people as it is to work with like-minded project partners and investors,” said Ari Beliak, Merritt’s president and CEO.

Ari Beliak
Alain McLaughlin Photography Ari Beliak

His nonprofit company is a low-income housing tax credit syndicator and known for providing equity capital to help develop or rehabilitate affordable housing developments in California. He noted that the pandemic has left a toll on the communities.

“It’s been tough. So many people lost their jobs or had to quit to take care of their families,” said Linda Mandolini, president of Eden Housing. “Now, they have to choose, either pay rent or put food on the table. At first, people thought things would get better soon, so they committed to not missing those monthly payments, but it’s getting harder and harder to make that choice every month.”

With the support of investors like Silicon Valley Bank, Pacific Western Bank, Boston Private, East West Bank, and others, Merritt donated $350,000 back into communities across the state at the end of 2020, making donations to each of its 82 property partners to support COVID-related resident needs along with diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and scholarships, reported the company.

“During this particularly difficult time, it has been extremely rewarding to see the real support that we are able to give tenants,” said Fiona Hsu, head of community development finance for Silicon Valley Bank.

In addition to direct assistance to tenants, Merritt is investing to create a more just, diverse, equitable, and inclusive industry, said officials. By partnering with organizations like the California Coalition for Rural Housing, Local Initiatives Support Corp. LA, Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, San Diego Housing Federation, and Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing, Merritt supports the major affordable housing internship programs across the state, fostering the industry’s future leaders. Merritt provided more than $50,000 in scholarships to local students in 2020 alone, and a cumulative $460,000 over the years.

Headquartered in Oakland, California, the nonprofit has financed close to 10,000 homes by raising nearly $1 billion in equity over the past 30 years.