CIT Bank in Pasadena, Calif., has made the largest investment in a community development financial institution that has operated locally for 20 years.

The $51 billion-asset CIT invested $2.5 million in Clearinghouse CDFI in Orange County, CIT said in a news release Tuesday.

“We are pleased that CIT Bank’s first investment is also our largest ever equity investment,” Clearinghouse CEO Doug Bystry said.

Bloomberg News

CDFIs are financial firms that cater to underserved communities. Clearinghouse says the funding from CIT will help it continue financing community facilities, affordable housing, commercial real estate and other projects that are meant to foster economic development in low-income communities.

“Investing in Clearinghouse CDFI is an effective way to deploy capital to bring measurable and positive impacts to the Southern California communities we serve and to meet our far-reaching community redevelopment goals,” Steve Solk, CIT’s president of consumer banking, said in the release.

CIT Bank is the banking unit of CIT Group and operates as OneWest Bank in Southern California.

Clearinghouse CDFI says it has funded $1.5 billion in loans for more than 1,820 community projects since its inception. Some of its projects have included loans of $2 million to $5 million to a foundation that backs housing nonprofits, a Native American tribe in California for economic development and the Bellaire Downtown for renovation of the 212-unit building in Los Angeles.

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Allison Prang

Allison Prang

Allison Prang is a reporter for American Banker, where she writes about community banks.