|Wespath Benefits and Investments and its subsidiaries, including Wespath Institutional Investments, participate in the Positive Social Purpose Lending Program. The information below provides details about a property recently financed through this program.|
In 1990, Wespath Benefits and Investments (Wespath) began investing in loans to support affordable housing and community development in impoverished communities. Through its Positive Social Purpose (PSP) Lending Program, Wespath has financed hundreds of affordable housing loans in the United States. Developments supported by PSP loans make safe, decent, and affordable housing available to individuals and families who otherwise may not have had access to one of the basic human needs – shelter. The PSP Lending Program is designed to achieve a market rate of return while also promoting affordable housing and community development in underprivileged areas.
One group of individuals and families facing high barriers in meeting this basic need of shelter are those transitioning out of prisons. There are very limited housing options and services available to these individuals, as they not only need a place to live but also need support services to help them transition back into the community. If proper assistance during this process is not available, many are likely to return to prison or to become homeless. Supporting the transition from prison systems aligns with the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church and other recent Wespath actions.
In 2011, Wespath added a new investment exclusion to its investment policy prohibiting investment in companies earning more than 10% of their revenue from managing or operating prison facilities—profiting from the incarceration of others does not align with the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church.
In May 2012, the PSP Lending Program and the California Community Reinvestment Fund, loaned $3 million for a 64-unit affordable housing project known as Dolores McCoy Villa I, located in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. Construction of Dolores McCoy Villa I was completed in 2010 and the development opened in February 2011. The project offers two- and three-bedroom units to tenants earning less than 60% of the area’s median income.
Dolores McCoy Villa I targets formerly homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals, with a special emphasis on providing “much needed housing and on-site support services for single mothers re-entering the community after being incarcerated.”1 For these women, securing housing after prison release is not easy. Some have families and homes that they can return to post-release, but many are not so fortunate; they struggle to make ends meet. In addition to finding a place to live, they must focus on necessities such as finding and keeping employment, paying for childcare, providing for and maintaining a safe and stable home environment for their children, and often attending drug treatment programs—all in an effort to sustain a positive lifestyle and avoid the possible return to prison. According to the property’s website, a resident manager is available to tenants at no cost. Support services offered at the project include case management, financial management, employment training and placement, academic counseling, access to health care, substance abuse services and other opportunities focused on families and independent living skills.2
Dolores McCoy Villa I was co-developed by Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC) and Affordable Housing CDC Inc. (AHCDC), who are also co-general partners in the project ownership. The collaboration of these organizations on this development has resulted in a project that not only addresses the shortage of affordable housing, but also provides long-term supportive services to those needing assistance in re-entering society. In the years to come, Dolores McCoy Villa I should have a positive impact on retirement plan participants who should benefit from the anticipated financial returns on the investment, and on residents who will benefit from quality affordable housing and much needed support services.
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