Westmount’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Portfolio allocates clients across a diverse selection of investment managers that directly support innovative companies driving positive social change. Westmount’s ESG managers are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, a globally recognized framework adopted by the U.N. General Assembly to collaboratively tackle humanity’s most pressing issues.
For more than 20 years, Community Capital Management (CCM) has managed ESG bond funds that offer a multitude of investments related to affordable housing, environmentally sustainable transportation, and the alleviation of poverty in local communities. We believe CCM’s CRA Qualified Investment bond fund (CRANX) offers our clients an exceptional diversification opportunity while positively impacting local communities.
The dramatic impact of COVID-19 has heightened pre-existing financial inequalities faced by low-income communities, particularly communities of color, around the world. In response, CCM has increased their commitment to these underserved communities by launching a $100 million initiative within CRANX for COVID-19 relief. This fund offers investors an opportunity to provide capital to underserved people and neighborhoods, economic recovery programs, and small businesses.
Here are a few examples of how the CRANX bond fund supports communities affected by COVID-19 while actively working toward achieving the United Nations SDGs:
Romney Meadows Apartment Homes is an affordable housing complex in Lafayette, Ind., that offers homes for low-income families and disabled residents of Tippecanoe County. Comprising 31 buildings, Romney Meadows is home to 300 low-income families. Eighteen of the complex’s 326 units are also ADA-compliant. With the funds made available through CRANX, the managers of Romney Meadows were able to begin renovations intended to improve the accessibility, safety, decor, and environmental sustainability of the apartments and community centers.
At the on-premises Bauer Family Resources Building, residents can also benefit from a variety of educational and counseling programming, including early childhood education classes, after-school programs, free meals for families, mental health support groups, and financial counseling. The Bauer Building has become a hub for various community partnerships as well. In response to shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tippecanoe School Corporation partnered with Romney Meadows to donate free grab-and-go meals for all students in the school district, from kindergarten through high school. A similar food distribution program has also been set up to serve the residents of Tippecanoe County.
By providing affordable homes for low-income families, accessible living spaces for disabled individuals and free meals for their community, Romney Meadows Apartment Homes fulfills U.N. SDG No. 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities.
The United Services Automobile Association (USAA) is a financial services company that works with active and former service members of the U.S. armed forces and their families. Earlier this year, USAA issued two sets of sustainability bonds—partially thanks to funds made available through CRANX—to support eligible investments in the areas of affordable housing, clean transportation, and most recently, financial relief for those affected by COVID-19.
USAA’s recent investments have been used to build low-income housing, issue loans to purchase new battery-powered and hybrid vehicles, and to acquire and develop facilities that generate renewable power from wind or solar resources. Most recently, USAA has invested in initiatives to address the financial burdens on USAA members caused by the pandemic. These measures include waiving banking fees, deferring members’ payments on mortgages and consumer loans, and waving deductibles and co-payments for Medicare clients. Additionally, USAA has returned $800 million in car insurance premiums as a result of reduced car usage during the pandemic and subsequent stay-at-home orders. Through their COVID-19 initiatives, USAA’s work fulfills U.N. SDG No. 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.
To help address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bank of America announced a $100 million commitment in March 2020 to help local communities purchase medical supplies and meals for low-income families.4 Through capital provided by CRANX, the funds will be distributed as loans and grants to local businesses with a focus on providing food assistance and supporting medical systems in responding to COVID-19. Along with these focused initiatives, Bank of America has funded loans and lines of credit to hospital workers, nurses and other essential medical personnel, as well as healthcare equipment manufacturers and distributors.
Additionally, Bank of America has set a goal to commit $50 billion over 10 years to fund industries that are working to develop products and solutions that meet the United Nations SDGs.5 Bank of America’s COVID-19 initiative is designed to support U.N. SDG No. 3: Good Health and Well-Being.
1 Source: Community Capital Management. Additional information available by request.
2 Source: Romney Meadows Apartment Homes. Additional information available by request.
3 Source: Community Capital Management. Additional information available by request.
4 Source: Bank of America
5 Source: Bank of America
This report was prepared by Westmount Asset Management (“WAM”). WAM is registered as an investment advisor with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The information contained in this report was prepared using sources that WAM believes are reliable, but WAM does not guarantee its accuracy. The information reﬂects subjective judgments, assumptions and WAM’s opinion on the date made and may change without notice. WAM undertakes no obligation to update this information. It is for information purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment, legal or tax advice, nor as an oﬀer to sell or a solicitation of an oﬀer to buy any security. Securities transactions carry risk and are not suitable for all investors. Before making an investment decision, you should consider whether this information is appropriate in your circumstances. No part of this material may be copied in any form, by any means, or redistributed, published, circulated or commercially exploited in any manner without WAM’s prior written consent.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results, and investing in stocks, alternatives, and bonds carries the possibility of loss of principal. WAM’s ESG portfolios are not intended to perfectly mirror the relevant indices and may have more or less volatility than the indices.
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