As we write, much of the country is in “lock-down” or is “sheltering-in-place,” and “social distancing” is the order of the day. Old words. But new meanings to reflect the current reality of our lives. We look forward to the day when we share stories that look back at this time. But, mostly, we share our heartfelt hope that our country — indeed, our world — comes through this terrible time without succumbing to hate and xenophobia, and that we learn from this experience how to better protect the most vulnerable among us.
Today, as we focus on how we can best support our communities through this crisis, 2019 seems like a different lifetime. Yet, we had much to be proud of in 2019, and we hope you will find the stories in this report heartening. As you’ll see, they’re linked by our commitment to local work at a national scale. Our strategy has always been to tailor our work to the unique needs of each community we serve — and we’ve continued to use that approach even as we expand across the country. We also have some additional good news to report:
For three years we have been working intensively to change regulation and pass legislation that provides access to renewable energy for families who don’t own their own homes or whose roofs cannot support solar panels. The technical details of crossing load zones, opposing minimum monthly payments, and avoiding a requirement that commits tenants to long-term contracts can be a great cure for insomnia. But we are delighted to announce that, as of this writing, both the Massachusetts House and Senate have moved forward on legislation that will not only remove policy barriers that currently prevent most low-income households from benefiting from solar but also help shift our economy away from fossil fuels. We had expected these policies to be enacted by mid-summer but, as with many new initiatives, timing is now uncertain.
The opening of the Jones County Schools in Jones County, North Carolina in 2019 was another moment for celebration. Our $8 million New Markets Tax Credits investment helped finance the campus’s revolutionary design that addresses specific local environmental conditions and sets new standards for sustainable school design — a model that will deliver significant savings in operating costs and that can be followed by other schools in low-income, rural areas.
In 2019, BlueHub Loan Fund issued its inaugural public debt offering — a $75 million Sustainability Bond. S&P Global Ratings gave the bond an A- rating with stable outlook, signaling strong credit worthiness. S&P cited BlueHub Loan Fund’s financial position, effective portfolio management, and excellent loan health in support of its rating, specifically noting BlueHub Loan Fund’s “lean business model,” and “strong history of loan performance.” We are particularly proud that Sustainalytics, a leading investment analytics firm, concluded that our loans contribute to or advance eight of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and are aligned with the International Capital Markets Association’s 2018 Sustainability Bond Guidelines, which classify bonds used to exclusively finance or refinance projects with environmental and social benefits as Sustainability Bonds.
Robust growth is not just about external investment into our communities. It also requires focus on and investment in our internal systems. A full cyber audit and increasingly sophisticated accounting and management systems assure that we can continue to efficiently manage our portfolios and to safeguard the information we collect from all of our partners.
We are now focused on the impact of COVID-19 and the potential impact of the ensuing economic downturn on the communities we serve. As always, our approach is to create the longest runway we can, to plan ahead, and to assure that our organization is as robust as possible — finance, people, and systems — so that we can continue to fulfill our mission of helping to build healthy communities where low income people live and work.
Thank you for joining us in this journey,
2019 Annual Report
617.427.8600 For foreclosure prevention, call: 855.604.HOME (4663)