Low- to moderate-income companies, individuals targeted




NEW HAVEN — First Niagara Bank has pledged $7 million in loans and programming assistance to NAACP New Haven to support low- to moderate-income individuals and businesses in greater New Haven in the form of home-ownership assistance, small business/micro-loans, educational grants and administrative support.



The initiative was announced at a December 8 press conference at the NAACP New Haven headquarters on Whalley Avenue.



In order to make home ownership achievable for a greater number of individuals and families in greater New Haven, the NAACP and First Niagara have developed a home ownership assistance program that provides low- to moderate-income homebuyers up to $10,000 in down payment and closing-costs assistance. First Niagara is also establishing a special affordable home mortgage loan pool with special rates and more flexible underwriting for qualified homebuyers. 



To help New Haven-area small businesses, First Niagara, in conjunction with the New Haven branch NAACP, will establish both a targeted small-business loan pool and a microloan pool for companies that are either located in low- to moderate-income areas, or that create jobs for low- to moderate-income workers. Special focus will be placed on woman- and minority-owned businesses. Loans will be made from the small-business loan pool to a maximum of $150,000, Microloans will range from $1,000 to $25,000.



As part of First Niagara’s overall Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) commitment for the New Haven region, First Niagara has pledged a total of $6.85 million over five years in loans and down-payment assistance through this newly formed partnership with the NAACP. The specific lending parameters and eligibility requirements for each program are still under development but are slated to be implemented in the first quarter of 2012. The New Haven branch NAACP will serve as the referral agency for both the home-ownership assistance and small-business loan programs to ensure that applicants meet established criteria.



In addition to the above programs, First Niagara will make a grant to the NAACP in the amount of $150,000 over three years for administrative support. The bank has also pledged a total of $38,000 to the NAACP’s educational scholarship fund.