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Have You Heard

Sunday, January 1, 2006

ACCION Offers Business Loans Based on Borrower’s Initiative

ACCION USA, a nonprofit microlender, provides small business loans to help entrepreneurs realize the dream of starting and expanding their own businesses. Using a character-based lending methodology, ACCION USA doesn’t make loans based on credit history or collateral alone. Instead, it focuses on a potential borrower’s initiative, knowledge of his or her business and market, and on references from customers and neighbors.

ACCION USA and the U.S. ACCION Network provide loans ranging from $500 to $25,000. Loans can be used for many business purposes, such as new equipment, inventory, advertising and business expansion. For startup businesses, the maximum loan amount is $10,000, and a complete business plan and cash flow projection are required.

To learn more, go to the Accion USA web site at

Grants Available for ‘Green’ Housing

Developers of affordable housing may be eligible for up to $50,000 in grants from Green Communities, an initiative that promotes energy-efficient housing.

Green Communities is a project of the Enterprise Foundation in partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council. The program has $4.5 million available for affordable housing developments that conserve energy and natural resources and provide easy access to jobs, schools and services. Nonprofit organizations, for-profit entities, public housing authorities and tribally designated housing entities can apply.

Grants can be used for new construction or rehabilitation of residential units at an estimated cost of more than $3,000 per unit. Home-ownership developments must have at least 15 homes that will be sold to buyers with incomes below 80 percent of the area’s median income. Rental housing developments must provide permanent, not transitional, housing and must have at least 25 units for renters with incomes below 60 percent of the area’s median income.

Go to and click on “Major Initiatives” for more information.

Hotlines for Hurricane Victims

Help is just a phone call away for those facing financial problems caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

A national, nonprofit organization and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have both set up hotlines to assist those with questions about financial matters or federal taxes.

Trained volunteers from the banking, insurance, mortgage, finance and accounting industries provide free, one-on-one counseling through two call centers run by Operation HOPE. The toll-free number is 1-888-388-HOPE (4673).

Callers can get information on emergency credit management, deferring loan payments, filing insurance claims, locating lost documents and applying for federal or private assistance.

Operation Hope is a national, nonprofit social investment bank based in Los Angeles. The call centers are managed through Operation HOPE’s emergency preparedness division, HOPE Coalition America, a partner with FEMA.

Hurricane victims can also find a wealth of tax-related information at or by calling a special IRS disaster hotline at 1-866-562-5227.