Each new year brings new challenges and opportunities for CDFIs, and 2018 is no different. We expect another challenging year for federal policies and programs affecting CDFIs. The President's budget proposal for FY 2019 is likely to recommend major cuts to most of the programs CDFIs use including, once again, the elimination of CDFI Fund grant programs. The Treasury Department is expected to propose changes to the Community Reinvestment Act that could seriously weaken the law's community development value. New leaders at federal regulators and agencies are less knowledgeable about CDFIs and in most cases less supportive of our work. Congress may take up a farm bill, infrastructure spending and other initiatives that will impact our field. Much public policy work lies before us.
Which is why this year OFN is expanding our engagement in a range of public policy issues impacting the CDFI industry.
While our advocacy on behalf of full funding for the CDFI Fund remains OFN's highest priority, in 2018 we will engage in additional policy debates important to our field. Our approach will be informed by consultations with CDFI practitioners. We will collaborate closely with ally organizations active on issues impacting the operating environment for CDFIs and build new national partnerships to advance the field.
To devote the staff time and other resources to this broader public policy agenda, OFN has made the difficult decision to not host an Advocacy Day in 2018. However there is ample opportunity for OFN to work with our Members as you visit Washington and meet with Congressional offices in person. In-person meetings are so impactful and we really encourage making them a priority for your CDFI.
One great DC advocacy opportunity is just a few weeks away: the CDFI Coalition's CDFI Institute. I strongly encourage you to attend the CDFI Institute from February 28–March 1 and take advantage of the Hill visits on the afternoon of February 28. This year at the CDFI Institute, Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and CDFI Fund Director Annie Donovan are both confirmed to provide keynote speeches.
The timing of the Institute could not be better as Congress has yet to finalize a spending plan for FY 2018 and must simultaneously begin working on appropriations legislation for FY 2019. Panels will be held with experts from the CDFI Fund, other federal agencies, private financial institutions and include a variety of topics including new CDFI Fund appropriations, resources and technologies for CDFIs, helping you hone in your talking points before heading to the Hill to meet with your Members of Congress. Early bird registration for the Institute is open until Wednesday, January 31.
What else can you do? In the coming year, OFN staff is committed to supporting your in-person advocacy efforts by:
- Scheduling Hill meetings for you if you are planning a visit to Washington, D.C., If you are planning to attend the CDFI Institute, please contact Katie Havlovic Policy Associate, right away for assistance in scheduling appointments with key congressional offices.
- Advising you on a target list of congressional offices to meet with,
- Preparing written policy materials for your meetings, and
- Updating you on the status of legislation impacting your CDFI.
If you have questions about OFN's public policy work, recommendations about issues we should address or just want to chat about what's going on in the nation's capital, I would love to hear from you.