A NATIONAL NETWORK OF LENDING INSTITUTIONS, armed with a $4 billion war chest, is “relaunching” itself with an ambitious strategy to direct more investment capital to markets that, according to the network's president, fall “just outside the margins of conventional financing.”

Opportunity Finance Network, based in Philadelphia, is the successor to the National Community Capital Association, whose 167 affiliated community development finance institu tions have provided, over decades, $9.6 billion in financing for 317,000 homes, 141,000 jobs, 29,000 businesses, and 4,600 community service organizations.

The network's revised mission is to tap more aggressively into mainstream financial systems and steer capital into “overlooked” markets, said Mark Pinsky, its president and CEO, during a Jan. 25 tele-conference. The network plans to:

  • Develop a national subprime mortgage platform that challenges “predatory” lenders, with the goal of originating $1 billion in mortgages annually by 2010;
  • Make available $97.5 million through 2008 for institutions to buy land used for manufactured home parks, so that this land isn't sold for other purposes. Pinsky projected that this would preserve 4,000 housing units; and
  • Provide “stop-gap” financing for communities and businesses hit by natural disasters or terrorism.
  • On March 16, Opportunity Finance Network officials will meet in Washington with leading policy specialists to brainstorm about its long-term strategy.

    Learn more about markets featured in this article: Philadelphia, PA.