Senate subcommittee eyes SBA, CDFI funds

May 22, 2014 – Small Business Administration head Maria Contreras-Sweet testified at a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government hearing and said the agency had “dramatically reduced” its subsidy for the 504 loan program, and would request no credit subsidy for the 7(a) program for a second year.

The subcommittee was examining the Obama administration’s fiscal year 2015 funding request for the SBA and Community Development Financial Institutions Fund.

“This budget seeks authority to extend 504 Refinance lending. 504 Refi helps entrepreneurs unlock equity they already own in their businesses,” Contreras-Sweet said. “Restructuring a loan under 504 Refi means better rates on long-term debt, allowing owners to use their equity to create jobs and grow … The tremendous benefits of reinstating this program would come at zero subsidy cost to the taxpayers.”

Treasury Acting Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions Amias Gerety also testified on CDFIs and how they provide “critically needed financing for communities most in need.” He specifically referenced Hope Credit Union, a CDFI that partnered with the City of New Orleans’ Fresh Food Retail Initiative to provide fresh and affordable produce to the city’s 7th Ward.

For credit unions, every loan dollar backed by SBA is excluded from the MBL cap, which is set by statute at 12.25 percent of total assets. Meanwhile, any credit union with NCUA’s low-income designation is eligible for Treasury’s CDFI designation.