Brunswick-based Genesis Community Loan Fund has received the first-ever Trailblazer Award from the National Disability Finance Coalition for exemplary service by a community development financial institution.

The award, presented last month, comes with a $10,000 stipend.

“It was incredible to have that recognition,” Executive Director Liza Fleming-Ives said.

In 2020, the Genesis Fund provided a loan and development expertise to help the Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition turn a former boarding house in Rockland into a recovery house for people with substance use disorders. Contributed / Elyse Tipton

Genesis will put the award money toward projects that provide affordable housing to people with disabilities, she said, noting that Maine, as the state with the oldest population, has many residents with physical disabilities.

The organization is currently working with Bath Housing to develop new rental housing. Another big goal is to help mobile home owners purchase their own mobile home communities, so that they are not at the mercy of large investors, she said.

The Genesis fund was created 30 years ago by Midcoast Maine residents concerned about the lack of affordable housing in their area. Now, it provides loans and  other assistance to projects across the state that support underserved communities, mostly in rural towns. Those projects are mainly housing-related, but Genesis has also supported health care, child care and recovery programs.


“About 20% of our work is focused on essential community facilities and supportive services and about 80% of the work we do is focused around helping communities create and maintain affordable housing,” Fleming-Ives said. 

Finding affordable housing options has only gotten harder since the start of the pandemic, particularly for people with disabilities and substance use disorders, she said, and Genesis supports projects that offer “a housing option to transition from treatment to be able to be in community, and with time to find permanent housing.

“It’s important that smaller scale projects in rural communities can be deeply impactful in those communities,” said Fleming-Ives, emphasizing that programs and services to support people in need are often sorely lacking in less populated areas.

Genesis has also been involved in the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition to advocate for policy changes that would make these individual projects less necessary.

“Genesis places a high value on making projects happen that otherwise wouldn’t,” said Elyse Tipton, Communications Director for The Genesis Fund. “To be recognized at the national level for work that’s creative and trailblazing underscores the vision and determination among our local borrowers and other partners throughout Maine.”


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