Homewise at the 2022 OFN Conference
In October Homewise team members attended the biggest CDFI event of the year—the 2022 OFN Conference.
The gathering brought more than 2,000 CDFI practitioners, funders, investors, policymakers, and other industry stakeholders to New York City from across the country! The conference theme of Invest in Change ensured that plenaries, sessions, and hallway conversations remained focused on how supporters can partner with CDFIs to pursue equity, access, and economic opportunity for all.
The Conference encourages attendees to take tours and go into the field to see the work of regional CDFIs. Homewise Senior Director of Community Development Johanna Gilligan took a food tour of Jackson Heights, led by Accompany Capital. “On this tour I was struck by how no matter where you are in the country—when you value a culture and empower people good things happen,” said Johanna.
Homewise Senior Director of Policy & Resource Development and OFN Board Member, Elena Gonzales went on a tour of Harlem to see community development firsthand in one of New York’s most unique neighborhoods. She was deeply moved by the history and continued relevance of this mecca for African American artists.
Homewise and National Community Stabilization Trust partnered to co-host The Power of Homeownership Reception on the first night of the Conference. Homewise’s Mike Loftin, NHS Chicago’s Anthony Simpkins, and NCST’s Kris Siglin talked about strategies to build wealth and improve well-being for individuals and families through affordable homeownership. Attendees were encouraged to explore a national map to discover more about the homeownership gap in their community and to review national strategies for success at Homewisdom. Those who were not already members were encouraged to join the practitioner-led coalition the Homeownership Alliance.
The Homewise team held both planned and impromptu meetings with current and potential funders and investors throughout the week of the Conference. “We are always seeking additional capital sources that are patient and long-term relationship focused. Armed with capital like that and a bit of subsidy, we can expand our capacity to create more homeowners and build thriving communities,” said Clay Simmons, Homewise Chief Financial Officer. During the meetings Homewise shared the latest impact data from our annual report and strategized with our supporters about the potential to do more in New Mexico and what it would take to get there.
Mike Loftin moderated a session entitled “10 Ways CDFIs Can Increase Access to Homeownership and close the Racial Wealth Gap.” With panelists Katie Rodriguez, of Housing Partnership Network, Brett Theodos, of the Urban Institute, and Anthony Simpkins, of NHS Chicago—the team counted down 10 actionable strategies and fielded questions from attendees about how CDFIs can become the backbone on an alternative homeownership delivery system and reach under-served communities that the traditional financing system has left behind.
Elena Gonzales was a panelist for “A Roadmap to Mortgage Lending Liquidity in Native American Communities.” She joined Joanna Donohoe of Seven Sisters Community Development Group and Ben Navarro of Fannie Mae to discuss possible pathways for Native CDFIs to access the liquidity of the secondary market.
Especially memorable aspects of the conference included the 2022 Native Awards, and the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award. Homewise congratulates 2022 Native Award winners South Dakota’s Akiptan, Alaska’s Haa Yakaawu, and Idaho’s Nimiipuu Fund. Homewise also congratulates Janie Barrera, a former nun and South Texan, who founded LiftFund in San Antonio, Texas, and was awarded the 2022 Ned Gramlich Lifetime Achievement Award for Responsible Finance. Both awards ceremonies featured beautiful and authentic music.
In the closing plenary Heather McGhee, author of The Sum of Us, talked about the headwinds that are holding us back. She encouraged CDFIs like Homewise to “become popularly known particularly among young people and people starting out who have a ton of debt and a ton of dreams and a ton of grit and this should be where they go and who they know is on their side.”