WALNUT CREEK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--An innovative program that renovates abandoned and blighted homes and provides affordable housing in Richmond, California, has won recognition for Mechanics Bank’s role in providing financing through the purchase of Social Impact Bonds (SIBs). The “Beyond the Check” award presented yesterday as part of the San Francisco Business Times’ Corporate Philanthropy Awards was one of just five given to Bay Area companies that “go to great lengths to share time and talent with nonprofits.”
Mechanics Bank teamed up with the Richmond Community Foundation (RCF), which runs the program, not only to purchase the entire $3 million bond issue that launched it, but to provide ongoing community relations and marketing support. Mechanics Bank also provided even better terms than proposed; the bonds are at zero percent interest, no coupon and funds are recycled for five years, as homes are sold, to allow more homes to be purchased and renovated.
“As a community foundation working with a community bank, this has been a perfect match of mission, vision and values,” said Jim Becker, CEO of RCF. “We couldn’t ask for a better partner than Mechanics Bank.”
“When we were offered the chance to participate in this effort, we jumped at it,” said Rauly Butler, Mechanics Bank Executive Vice President and Director of Retail Banking. “When our communities thrive, we thrive. That has been part of our business model for well over a century.”
Everything about the RCF program is designed to benefit the community. All workers hired to rehab the properties live in Richmond, so the project has pumped $150,000 in wages back into the local economy. To date, 17 homes have been purchased and two homes sold. (Becker thinks as many as 300 homes in Richmond might be suitable for this program.) RCF also partners with SparkPoint, a financial education nonprofit whose clients get a 10-day non-compete window to purchase homes that RCF puts on the market, giving these first-time home buyers an edge in the heated Bay Area real estate market.
“Mechanics Bank has perennially made the list of top corporate philanthropists; this year we were 50th out of 100 Bay Area corporations and one of a select few in the ‘1% club,’” said John DeCero, CEO of Mechanics Bank. “This is what community banking is all about; providing the communities we serve with the resources they need to succeed.”
Video about the program can be found here.
About Mechanics Bank
Mechanics Bank, established in 1905, is an independent, full service community bank. With more than $5.6 billion in assets, it is the largest bank headquartered in Northern California’s East Bay region. With 30 branch offices throughout Northern California and five locations in Southern California it provides a highly personalized relationship banking experience that includes consumer and business banking services, commercial lending, commercial deposit and cash management services, and comprehensive trust and wealth management services. More information may be found at www.mechanicsbank.com.