Letter from the CEO
It is my sincere pleasure to introduce myself as the new President and CEO of LHOME. I embrace this opportunity with excitement, enthusiasm, and commitment. I humbly choose the salutation, “Dear Collaborators” because I have learned over the years that no one person, or one entity, can single handedly right the historic wrongs that have present-day impacts for so many in our community. I look forward to meeting, talking, listening, and learning from community partners and donors that care about this injustice as much as I do. This is important work for us all, not just for those who face these consequences personally. Our work at LHOME builds the type of inclusive, equitable and just society that many in our community take for granted and too many others have never known. To make meaningful progress in this vast arena, I need friends, I need partners, I need Collaborators.
LHOME (The Louisville Housing Opportunities and Micro-Enterprise Community Development Loan Fund, Inc.) is a mission-driven, Black led, non-profit financial institution that provides accessible, affordable loan products, financial coaching and support services to Louisville’s low income and minority residents. As a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) certified by the U.S. Treasury, we are committed to serving small business owners and homeowners in Louisville’s low-and moderate-income (LMI) census tracts, primarily our West and South End neighborhoods, by creating intergenerational wealth opportunities, particularly for Louisville’s black and brown residents. Over three-quarters of LHOME clients are non-white, and over 90% reside in the historically underserved and neglected sections of our city. Redlining and other discriminatory practices in the early 1900s concentrated the city’s Black population. The legacy of these actions remains, with high concentrations of minority families clustered in nine neighborhoods. Today Louisville is still a highly segregated city. The structured and opportunity cost shows up in concentrated and devastatingly high poverty rates, up to 80%, and in the intentional lack of public and private investment and access to jobs.
They say timing is everything. This opportunity could not have come at a better time in my life. I will leverage all of my diverse experience to lead LHOME and accelerate our mission. I have a multi-faceted career in the financial services including leadership roles at National City Community Development Association and Louisville Community Development Bank. My experience outside of the financial services sector has prepared me the most. As Deputy Commissioner of the Kentucky State Department of Financial Institutions I saw first-hand how systemic discriminatory practices in the mortgage lending and securities industry impacted minority and LMI communities, not to mention the outright predatory practices of the payday loan industry. Most recently, I served as Chief of Community Building with Louisville Metro Government overseeing agencies that addressed homelessness, child development, public safety, environmental justice, eviction prevention and utility assistance. I was part of the Mayors’ American Rescue Plan implementation team and worked closely with council and residents to address what our community identified as our most pressing issues. I was fortunate to lead implementation of the city’s Group Violence Intervention program to address gun violence in our community. What I have learned is that all these issues tie back to the impacts of unequal economic mobility opportunities. The creation of intergenerational wealth and knowledge or the lack, thereof, is a key contributing factor to most if not all the equity issues we face. This is where LHOME’s work is a solution.
LHOME became a certified CDFI in 2018, and in the past five years has provided entrepreneur training and financial coaching to more than 3,700 Louisville/Jefferson County residents and deployed over $4.2MM in affordable, fixed-rate loans primarily to un- and under banked micro- enterprises and small businesses. In 2022 alone, LHOME provided training and coaching services to over 800 individuals including 73% who are persons of color and 80% of whom have incomes below 80% of the median. Our primary constituency is chronically and historically disadvantaged entrepreneurs.
How does LHOME begin to address this issue? How do we begin to close the access gap, the opportunity gap and ultimately the disparity and equity gap? We do so by providing resource intensive, robust development services/technical assistance to our clients through a financial coaching team that supports clients from initial contact through loan pay-off and beyond. We work closely with other resource providers in our community to ensure access to and a continuum of support that best meets the needs of our clients. Collaboration is key.
The pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated how historic discrimination creates unequal access to resources and perpetuates systemic inequities. When the new PPP (paycheck protection program) and EIDL (economic injury disaster loans) opportunities were released under SBA, Black and Brown entrepreneurs quickly found themselves at the back of the line or simply not in line at all. The intergenerational wealth and knowledge gap meant that many of our minority businesses simply were not prepared to take advantage of these opportunities.
There is no shortage of entrepreneurial spirit in our BIPOC and LMI communities, but there is unequal access to entrepreneurial training and support to help them get started in business and grow to long-term success. LHOME was created to serve this unmet need and has expanded to serve more businesses every year. We are fortunate to benefit from the leadership of a majority Black-led board with representation from numerous community-based, corporate organizations who are committed to expanding the opportunities afforded to Louisville entrepreneurs who have been historically excluded and underserved. LHOME receives grants, loans, and in-kind support from a variety of dedicated sources – government, local foundations, corporations, and individuals.
This is where you come in, we cannot do this alone. We need your financial support to sustain and grow this work and serve those who would otherwise be left behind. We need your help to make Louisville the inclusive, equitable city we strive for it to be. To that end, I will be reaching out to schedule some time for us to talk, for you to ask questions, for me to listen and for us to find a way to work together to make Louisville a better city and a great place to live for all.