Reinvestment Fund Inc., a Philadelphia nonprofit that makes community development loans, this week tapped the municipal bond market for $50 million. It is just the second community development financial institution to do so.
The Philadelphia organization, which also has an office in Baltimore, will use the money to make loans for schools, grocery stores, health centers, and real estate in poor communities; refinance a portion of existing debt; and pay for the cost of issuing the bonds, which received a "AA-" rating from Standard & Poor's.
Founded in 1985, Reinvestment Fund turned to the bond market for the first time because it has reached limits with big banks that have been traditional sources of capital, bond investors are eager for new places to put their money, and large community development financial institutions like it have matured, said Mark Zandi, who is vice chair of the organization's board and chief economist at Moody's Analytics in West Chester.
"Business is good. Lending is strong. We're very active in lots of different markets. It's a sign of strong demand in many communities across the country. That creates a need for capital," Zandi said.
Recent Philadelphia projects supported by Reinvestment Fund include the rehabilitation of 45 properties on 60th Street in West Philadelphia, the Shoppes at Wissinoming in Northeast Philadelphia, and the Community Concern #13 Multi-Purpose Learning Center in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood of North Philadelphia, Reinvestment Fund said.
Overall, S&P Ratings Services gave Reinvestment Fund a strong "AA" rating and a stable outlook reflecting "TRF's consistent profitability, high-performing loans, minimal loan loss exposure, and sufficient equity to cover potential losses," according to S&P's April 14 report.
At the end of last year, Reinvestment Fund managed $951 million in capital, including off-balance-sheet entities, from more than 850 investors, according to its bond offering statement. It was the nation's third-largest community development financial institution in terms of assets and the largest in terms of loans in 2014, the prospectus said.
Beating Reinvestment Fund to the bond market was a New York CDFI, Local Initiatives Support Corp., which raised $100 million from the bond market last month.
"We wanted to be first," Zandi said. "They beat us to the punch."