MortgageOriginationReal Estate

First Financial Bank to invest $700M by 2028 in affordable mortgages

Funds are to be invested in rural areas, community LOs and small-dollar mortgages, among other initiatives

Cincinnati-based First Financial Bank has agreed to direct $2.4 billion in the next five years for lending and investments to low- and moderate-income (LMI) clients and census tracts, with 30% of the total tied to mortgage lending.

The initiative is part of a community benefits agreement with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC), the parties announced Tuesday. 

The deal that runs through 2028 includes more than $1 billion for community development lending and services, investments in affordable housing, revitalization and stabilization, and projects that create jobs in LMI areas.  

Another $700 million is expected to be invested in mortgage lending, with a focus on rural areas, the development of community mortgage loan officers, small-dollar mortgages and home improvement loans, among other products for LMI borrowers. 

First Financial Bank’s plan also includes investments in small-business lending and donations to organizations that create and preserve affordable housing. The depository is aiming to maintain at least 25% of its branches in LMI areas. 

“These new commitments will directly improve the material conditions of under-resourced neighborhoods within the bank’s footprint,” Jesse Van Tol, president and CEO of NCRC, said in a statement. 

Archie Brown, president and CEO of First Financial, added: “These are neighborhoods where we live and work, and we are taking a leading role in helping our neighbors achieve goals and improve their financial well-being.” 

In its previous five-year plan, from 2018 to 2023, the bank invested $1.75 billion, which was 192% higher than its initial goal. 

Regarding the plan governance, the bank will maintain the advisory board created under the 2018 plan, and NCRC will appoint half the members. The bank will continue to provide quantitative and qualitative reporting on the plan. 

NCRC has facilitated 30 agreements with bank groups since 2016, totaling more than $580 billion in investments for mortgages, small businesses, community development lending and other initiatives. 

On Jan. 24, New Jersey-based TD Bank announced $10 billion in affordable homeownership initiatives by 2027, including the provision of loans and liquidity to the residential lending market. 

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