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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Mountain West Bank invests $1 million in SNAP to assist homeowners, businesses

Owners of homes and small businesses in the Inland Northwest will have access to an additional $1 million of support under a new partnership announced Thursday between SNAP and Mountain West Bank.

Mountain West, a division of Montana-based Glacier Bancorp., announced the investment Thursday morning at the offices of SNAP Financial Access in Spokane’s East Central neighborhood, complete with an oversized novelty check. The money is being given as what’s called an equity equivalent investment, and will bolster SNAP’s lending capability by 20 percent, said Chris Pasterz, director of financial stability services for SNAP.

“This isn’t a grant, and this isn’t like a give-out,” Pasterz said. “This is all real money, real loans, real interest. But the way that we can give these folks the loans, that’s the difference between somebody that’s getting a payday loan, to make a mortgage payment.”

SNAP Financial Access offers stability services in both home ownership and to grow small businesses. From its offices in the East Central Community Center, 500 S. Stone St., federally approved housing counselors and business financial consultants provide education as well as access to funds to finance the purchase of a home, renovation of a home, avoidance of foreclosure and costs associated with starting or expanding a business.

The partnership, the first of its kind for SNAP with a private lender, fits in with Mountain West’s mission, said Dennis Durfee, chief financial officer for the bank. By investing in SNAP, the company’s capital can be used to support customers who might not otherwise have access to Mountain West’s funds, he said.

“We’d love to do lots of these, but there’s some – regulations, whatever it might be – you just can’t get there,” Durfee said. “So you find somebody who knows it well, who knows how to manage the risks and the other things, that has the flexibility to take on the risks.”

SNAP has used the business assistance funds in the past to support several local firms, including downtown’s Cochinito Taqueria, the Honest in Ivory bridal shop on East Trent Avenue, and Cedar Coffee on North Monroe Street. Last year, the organization saved 159 homes from foreclosure with money available through SNAP Financial Access and paid more than $758,000 in loans for home and business costs.

Pasterz said he hopes the investment from Mountain West will encourage other private entities to consider assisting SNAP’s mission.

“That’s exactly what we’d like to do, lift the local community by getting others to invest,” he said.

The financial services office at SNAP is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. It’s open from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. The office is closed for the noon hour.