When LaShawn Burton-Faulk took over as executive director of the Manchester Citizens Corporation in 2012, she was the first to do so without its founding director Stanley Lowe serving as an advisor or consultant of some kind.
Since then, she has overseen the second and, now, third phases of the Columbus Square housing development and the Manchester Renaissance Housing Program which will eventually rehabilitate 38 housing units in keeping with the historic nature of the neighborhood.
And in May, after serving as a Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group board member for only a year and a half, she was elected as board chair. She said it was a wonderful surprise and honor.
“It’s pretty neat. PCRG has been an indispensable partner for my organization, Manchester Citizens Corporation, as an advocate for equitable investment practices, sufficient financial resources at the minimum, and policy change that will revitalize communities throughout Allegheny County,” she said. “I can’t say enough about the organization and the direction in which it’s headed.”
Executive Director Ernie Hogan said, with Burton-Faulk as board chair, it can head in exciting directions, primarily because of her background.
“She’s a great adviser and it’s interesting to have her perspective,” he said. “What we’re seeing is an African-American leader who stepped up and was hired by community to take them to next level. I think that leadership has been acknowledged by the administration because she’s now on the city planning commission.
“She started in banking with Fifth Third, then she was a VP at PW Campbell Construction before going to Manchester. So she comes with great credentials and that was attractive to our board. She’s what we call, a recovering banker.”
Hogan said having Burton-Faulk as chair sends a whole new message to CDCs, developers and the banks PCRG works with.
“Coming from a development and banking background, she’s in a unique place deal-wise,” he said. “She knows brick and mortar and the lending, and she’s proven her worth in her own community.”
Hogan said those qualities will help PCRG as it works to help community development groups position themselves and their projects to be favorably evaluated from the banking side, to help mitigate risk and attract more capital.
“The banks have an obligation to invest,” he said. “But they aren’t obligated to invest in bad deals.”
Tracking community reinvestment by the banking sector is one of PCRG’s main functions. Hogan said last year’s report was part of getting back to more data driven research and so, was a retrospective of investment from 2005-2012. It yielded some curious results, he said.
“We found affluent and moderate-income communities recovered about 95 percent of their pre-recession mortgage investment,” he said. “African-American and low-income communities only recovered about 50 percent.”
Hogan said PCRG hopes to release a report on Federal Housing Authority lending over the same time period in August. Its 2013 lending study is slated for release in September.
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