Florida nonprofit SELF tops $1 million in lending for low-income Gulf Coast homeowners


By Margie Manning

March 20, 2019

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SELF was featured on this publication in Catalyst on how they provide long-term self-sufficiency and sustainability.
Here is an excerpt,

SELF, a nonprofit organization that lends to low-wealth homeowners, is making an impact on the contracting business in St. Petersburg and Hillsborough County.

The organization has made $1 million in loans locally for home renovation projects for energy efficiency, clean energy and resiliency. That’s provided work for more than 100 contractors, said Duanne Andrade, SELF’s chief financial officer.

Those contractors are getting jobs they might otherwise have had to turn down because the homeowner didn’t have money to pay for the work, said Doug Coward, executive director of SELF.

“Most contractors will tell you they walk away from 20 percent to 40 percent of their potential business because homeowners are not qualifying for financing. We’re helping them to capture a market they are currently walking away from.”

Doug Coward

SELF, or Solar Energy and Loan Fund, was founded in 2010 and is based in Port Lucie. It serves 87 cities and counties in Florida, primarily on the east coast and in central Florida. The city of St. Petersburg and Hillsborough County, which make up the organization’s Gulf Coast region, each provided seed grants to SELF, which has established satellite offices in both locations and has three full-time staff members in the area.

St. Petersburg’s grant, approved in August 2017, came from a BP settlement that resulted from the Deep Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The settlement also provided funding for Solar United Neighbors, or SUN, a nonprofit that facilitated a solar co-op in St. Petersburg in 2016.

SELF’s flagship program, “Rebuilding and Empowering Underserved Communities,” makes microloans to low-wealth and working class families.

“We’re helping them gain access to capital at low interest rates so they can overcome the high upfront cost of making home renovations”

Doug Coward

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