The Bangor-based community development agency MaineStream Finance and the Orono-based tribal economic development organization Four Directions Development Corp. will jointly receive $1.5 million in federal grants this year, according to an announcement Thursday from the U.S. Treasury Department.
Four Directions will get a $900,000 grant through a Community Development Financial Institutions Fund grant. MaineStream Finance will receive $250,000.
The grants support lending and other economic development activities, according to the Treasury Department, which on Thursday announced $182 million nationally in financial and technical assistance awards.
Jayne Giles, CEO of MaineStream, said the award will help sustain lending for homes and businesses and its homebuyer education and finance counseling courses. The loans it and Four Directions will receive aim to help those unable to secure traditional bank loans or credit.
The award for Four Directions — founded in 2001 to spur economic development for the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribes — is more than it received last year.
MaineStream had requested less and received less than the previous year through Treasury Department grants.
Giles said that was based on demand, though she said interest in homebuyer classes has risen, which she views as a sign of an improving economy.
“The number of people coming in to talk to us about loans has gone way up this year,” Giles said, noting average attendance for homebuyer classes was about five to six two years ago. Some classes have as many as 25 people, she said.
Giles said her organization lends between $1 million and $1.5 million a year, typically in amounts of about $70,000 for homeowners and $10,000 for “microbusiness” loans across Penobscot, Hancock, Piscataquis and Knox counties.
Information about loans from MaineStream is available at mainestreamfinance.org and from Four Directions at fourdirectionsmaine.org.