Frequently Asked Questions
What makes City First Bank different?
City First Bank is the only bank focused solely on community development in Washington, DC.
What is a Community Development Financial Institution?
Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) serve urban and rural communities that lack access to credit and consumer financial services. Working in partnership with local communities, CDFIs promote revitalization and access to capital among those that are often left out of the economic mainstream – low and moderate income communities as well as individuals because of race, ethnicity, recent immigration status or lack of financial sophistication. To be eligible for technical or financial assistance from the government, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund has a review process used to qualify for CDFI certification.
All certified CDFI institutions, both bank and non-bank, must demonstrate that at least 65% of their total lending, services, and other activities benefit low income communities. While most CDFIs are non-profit, some CDFIs, like City First are commercial banks with tighter regulatory controls and FDIC insurance. Bank CDFIs have a primary mission of promoting community development and generally focus on lending for affordable housing production, business operations for disadvantaged small companies and non-profit organizations and real estate lending for community facilities. CDFI Banks are distinct from traditional banks not only because of the focus on lending in low and moderate income markets but we also make smaller loans with multiple layers of financing and can generally provide more flexible terms and conditions.
Is City First a for-profit?
Yes. We are a for-profit bank but we reinvest all of our profits in our community development mission. As a bank, an important source of the funding needed to meet our mission comes from deposits from individuals and companies in the community. Our responsibility as a bank and to those who deposit funds with us is to ensure that our business is sustainable.
Are you financially healthy?
Yes. Our financials are publicly available at http://www2.fdic.gov/Call_TFR_Rpts.
What kinds of loans do you make?
City First Bank makes commercial loans, that is, loans to businesses and non-profit organizations, or loans to individuals for business purposes. For example, we make loans to finance the acquisition and renovation of real estate, to businesses and non-profits who want to purchase their own building or expand into more real estate. We also make non-real estate secured loans to small businesses for equipment, business expansion, or receivables-based lines of credit. We do not currently make consumer loans.
Do I have to have a project located in a low-income area to qualify for a loan?
Not necessarily. At any given time, 10-15% of our loan portfolio is “non-mission.” This allows us the flexibility to address market demand and it allows us to diversify risk in our loan portfolio. However, the majority of our lending activity has historically been in low and moderate income areas. Click here for a map of our lending.
Do you provide grants?
We are a for profit, commercial bank and do not make grants.
Who are your investors?
Our investors fall into two broad categories. They are either philanthropically-motivated as was the case with the District of Columbia which made an important early investment funding the business planning process, or they are motivated by the requirements of the Community Reinvestment Act, as is the case with our large bank investors.
Do you make home mortgages?
City First does not make residential home mortgages.
How can I keep my accounts with City First if you only have one branch?
City First offers online banking and other tools that make it convenient for you to handle your banking needs without having to come into our branch.
As a depositor, what advantages are there having an account with City First versus any other bank?
When you open an account with City First, you will receive all of the benefits that you would receive with any other bank plus a few others. We offer competitive interest rates and your money is guaranteed by the FDIC. But with City First you get the added benefit of knowing that while your money is working for you, it is also working in the community helping to strengthen small businesses and community organizations, creating jobs, affordable housing and opportunities for others throughout the region.