Alameda County’s Community Development Agency awarded CDF $535,000 in August 2022 to create a low-cost financial services program in an unincorporated area of the county (Cherryland and Ashland). The funds are to be used to create a new store to offer a range of low-cost financial services including lending, financial coaching, check cashing and related services needed in the neighborhood.
CDF has spent significant time in the early stages of this work: searching for an adequate location; looking for a bank or credit union partner to co-locate with us or looking for another appropriate co-locating partner; procuring a contractor for the necessary buildout; reviewing the requirements for licensing and insurance; beginning discussions about banking issues; starting discussion about personnel matters; beginning planning for marketing and software acquisition; starting the education process on new programs (e.g. small business lending); considering a name change; and discussion with other community members and representatives.
Unfortunately, finding a location with a reasonable rent has been extremely difficult. We have driven throughout the area multiple times, talked to commercial brokers, received extensive assistance and guidance from County staff, looked at several options, etc. Very little space is available for rent and what is available has unrealistically high asking prices.
Unfortunately, this may lead CDF to give up this award. The funding comes from the federal government (American Rescue Plan, or ARPA) and must be used in a short time period. Otherwise, it has to be returned to the federal government. So, there is great time pressure on the use of the funds. At this time, it is not clear that CDF will be able to proceed with this program.
CDF will update the information on this program as appropriate.