A nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) created to assist economic revitalization and redevelopment of under-resourced communities in Chicago. 

The Organization

Since 1991, Chicago Community Loan Fund (CCLF) has made more than 460 loans totaling nearly $200 million to for-profit and nonprofit enterprises, programs, and real estate developments throughout the Chicago region with a focus on areas of greatest need. These loans have leveraged an additional $1.3 billion, which borrowers have used to build or renovate more than 9,000 affordable apartments for low- and moderate-income families, construct more than 3.4 million square feet of commercial, retail and community-asset space, and create more than 4,500 employment opportunities.

CCLF team discussion

The Challenge

For at least half a century, Chicago’s West and South sides have experienced loss—of factories, shops, banks, and ultimately homes, buildings, and populations. While residents and some civic organizations remained committed to their neighborhoods, few lenders or investors have been willing to take what was perceived to be an outsized risk. This historic disinvestment increased in 2008 when the collapse of the housing market affected even historically stable neighborhoods such as Auburn-Gresham, Chatham, and Austin.

The Solution

Where others saw risk, CCLF saw an opportunity. Rather than retreat from neighborhoods among the hardest hit by disinvestment, CCLF has focused its lending in those communities, offering needed financing and technical support. From FY2007 to FY2017, CCLF increased its loans closed by nearly 600%. With the astute understanding that businesses and housing developers are encouraged when they see active development, CCLF has made strategic investments that have acted as catalysts for others. The $5 million Benefit Chicago loan will advance CCLF’s strategy by making it possible for two local developers to transform closed Chicago Public School buildings in targeted neighborhoods into active community assets, including a small business incubator, affordable housing, art studios, and more.

The Impact

By partnering with developers and nonprofit service providers to renovate and repurpose closed school buildings, CCLF will help transform symbols of loss into incubators for growth and change, creating new opportunities for employment, community activities, and cohesion.


Photo of Calvin HolmesCalvin Holmes President of Chicago Community Loan Fund
“In our 20 plus years, we have demonstrated that smart investments in housing, retail and civic developments, led by skilled and responsive leaders, can lay the foundation for greater individual and community opportunities and sustainable success.”