Southeast Fly-In: OFN Members Advocate for CDFIs on The Hill

Senator Wicker (R-MS), with HOPE Policy Institute’s Kiyadh Burt, and OFN’s Mary Scott Balys and Alden Matamoros.

Southeast Fly-In: OFN Members Advocate for CDFIs on Capitol Hill 

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OFN members meet with Congress to preserve CDFI Fund funding in spending negotiations  

Last month, three CDFIs based in the Southeastern United States came to Washington for a day of advocacy on Capitol Hill. The Hill meetings come at a critical time —appropriations for the CDFI Fund are a target of federal budget negotiations amid a more austere spending environment. 

The Southeastern delegation included Mary Ellen Judah, executive director of Neighborhood Concepts in Huntsville, Alabama; Kiyadh Burt, policy director of HOPE Credit Union in Jacksonville, Mississippi; and Cindi Rourk, CEO of CLIMB Fund in Charleston, South Carolina.   

Together with OFN’s public policy team, the CDFI leaders attended nine meetings with Members of Congress and their staff spanning five states across the region (See the full list below).

Mary Ellen Judah, Kiyadh Burt, and OFN’s Dafina Williams and Mackenzie Bills meet with Senator Hagerty’s (R-TN) staff to discuss how CDFIs are driving economic development in Tennessee.

The Hill visits are a part of OFN’s grassroots advocacy efforts to bring CDFI leaders to Washington to advocate for the industry. The congressional visits were timely, as Congress begins to negotiate spending levels for the next fiscal year.  

“This was a great opportunity to share how CDFIs play a critical role in increasing homeownership, small business access to capital, and community development in the Deep South,” said Kiyadh Burt of Hope Credit Union. “Flying in to share our member success stories of buying a home for the first time, starting a business during the pandemic, or how federal dollars were used to support rural hospital expansion with elected officials was an honor – as is knowing that success stories from the communities we serve will be instrumental in advancing the success of others.” 

Mary Ellen Judah, executive director of Neighborhood Concepts, and Cindi Rourk, CEO of CLIMB Fund during the Hill visits.

“Sharing stories about the local small businesses that we have helped root through the work of our CDFI is such an impactful way to demonstrate to our Congressional representatives that their support of the CDFI program is making a difference,” said Mary Ellen Judah from Neighborhood Concepts. “Coordinated Hill visits, such as the recent Southeast fly-in, are yet another OFN membership benefit that makes our work easier.”

Southeast Fly-In Congressional Meetings 

Preserving CDFI Fund Appropriations 

The primary focus of the meetings was CDFI Fund appropriations, which are facing steep cuts as part of the debt ceiling deal negotiated between the Biden Administration and House Republicans.

In June, the House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee marked up their proposed fiscal year 2024 spending bill and included just $278 million for the CDFI Fund, well below the current funding level of $324 million. The Senate Appropriations Committee marked up their spending bill and stuck to spending levels agreed to in the debt ceiling negotiations and proposed $334 million for the CDFI Fund, an increase over 2023.  

With just a few weeks left before the October 1 start of the new fiscal year, negotiations over federal spending will be a top priority after Congress returns from the August recess. Congress must agree on 2024 appropriations by September 30 or pass a short-term spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.  

The CDFI industry must keep the pressure on Congress to ensure that FY 2024 appropriations for the CDFI Fund are not cut.   

OFN encourages our members to send letters of support to your Members of Congress about the importance of the CDFI Fund and advocate for the highest appropriations possible.  

Visit our policy action center to learn how you can protect the CDFI Fund.  

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