Community Development at Work: Justine PETERSEN

Justine PETERSEN Connects Residents & Business Owners in Underserved Communities with Opportunities to Thrive

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Justine PETERSEN (JP) is one of the most renowned local credit-lending institutions in St. Louis. The organization first began its impact on the St. Louis community through affordable housing and homeownership counseling. JP has since expanded its products and services and is currently grounded on three specific pillars: micro-enterprise technical assistance and lending, homeownership counseling, and credit building counseling and financial education.

The organization focuses on five main strategic goals:

  • Increase opportunity for low- to moderate-income entrepreneurs to start their own businesses.

  • Increase homeownership through counseling and working with banks to create more accessible products.

  • Provide credit building counseling and develop products aligned with credit building.

  • Rehabilitate and sell homes to income-qualified buyers.

  • Expand JP’s industry and organizational capacity through staff development, talent management, succession, and sustainability.

CBN recently had the opportunity to sit down with a team member of Justine PETERSEN, Katie Arnold. Katie has been the Grants Manager at Justine PETERSEN since 2014. She’s part of an integral, three-person development team at JP. Katie and her team are responsible for managing JP’s large grant portfolio.

Katie Arnold (right) with her JP teammate, Constance Siu (left), Resource Development Associate

When asked about the impact that JP has had in the St. Louis community, Katie shared the organization’s impact on leading conversations with the St. Louis Equal Housing and Community Reinvestment Alliance (SLEHCRA), of which JP is a founding member. SLEHCRA is the area’s local coalition that focuses on promoting investments in low-income and minority communities as required by the Community Reinvestment Act. Katie also emphasized the impact that JP has had on credit building in the community through the provision of various credit-led financial products as well as counseling services. JP has also played a substantial role in investing in new and existing businesses in the St. Louis area with the hope of creating a ripple effect of economic development.

The organization has undergone several new projects since its inception. In 2013, JP established a new location in Granite City, Illinois. In addition to offering JP’s full line of services to Illinois clients, JP housing counselors also assist Illinois homeowners facing foreclosure through Illinois’s Hardest Fit Fund. Five years after establishing a Granite City location, the JP office has moved to a ground-level coworking space that provides more exposure to the community.

Red of Red’s BBQ talks about his experiences as part of a panel held at Justine PETERSEN’s office during Missouri’s Small Business Week

Another major project that JP is endeavoring in is enhancing its for-profit CDFI, Great Rivers Community Capital. The CDFI specifically provides affordable financing to low- and moderate-income underserved populations. JP received a CDFI Fund Award of one million dollars in 2017 to spearhead this project.

The role and the significant impact of Justine PETERSEN truly emerges from the relationship between its employees and needs of the community. In her role, Katie hopes to foster additional relationships with local CRA officers and bankers. And among her JP teammates, she hopes to generate more team-building and enhance team communication.

Justine PETERSEN has been a CBN member since winning the 2017 Award for Excellence in Lending at the CBN Awards Reception. Just like the work their team produces, JP has been a collaborative and innovative partner within the CBN network.

Justine PETERSEN was honored at the Illinois Department of Human Rights’ Fair Housing Celebration in April 2018

Written by Melanie Liu, CBN Practicum Student