Silicon Valley Bank’s Collapse, Acquisition, and Affordable Housing: What’s Next?


While it is widely known that Silicon Valley Bank’s (“SVB”) collapse in early March wreaked havoc in the tech startup and life-science industries, many overlook one industry that took a major hit: affordable housing.[1] The fall of the Bay Area financial institution had a wider reach than one may expect because the Bank had been a go-to bank for several startups in various fields, including affordable housing.[2] Its website still touts its deep involvement in affordable housing, displaying that “SVB has invested and loaned more than $2B for housing since 2002.”[3] According to its own website, the Bank had committed billions of dollars in investments and loans to fund almost 10,000 units for the past twenty years.[4] Without those funds, however, all that is left are huge gaps in several major cities’ affordable housing projects, all caused by the largest bank failure since the 2008 financial crisis.[5]

For example, a $52 million, 112-unit project in San Francisco was planned to begin construction the week of March 13.[6] SVB was set to provide the construction loan, until regulators took over the Bank and left the project’s developers scrambling for other potential lenders.[7] This affordable housing community in particular was to be built for individuals with and without disabilities.[8] In San Francisco alone, at least three affordable housing projects that SVB was involved in are still under construction.[9] The impact is not limited to Northern California, either. In Boston, Mayor Michelle Wu had announced a $67 million plan to create and preserve more than 800 affordable housing units in the city.[10] This effort was closely intertwined with Boston Private Bank and Trust, which was acquired by SVB’s parent company in 2021.[11] Boston Private Bank had a longstanding tradition of actively coordinating with affordable housing organizations by providing lending and funding.[12] SVB aimed to do the same through its $900 million purchase.[13]  In California and Massachusetts alone, SVB committed over $6 billion in community development and residential mortgages for underserved communities.[14]

A spokesperson for the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) said that the DHCD has reached out to affordable housing developers whose projects are in construction to check in and ensure they can proceed.[15] In fact, some insiders have secured funding from other sources and see the collapse as a temporary setback.[16] In a recent development, First Citizens has acquired SVB and its mortgages and real estate loans.[17] Until recently, however, many affordable housing organizations and businesses were feeling unsure about the future of their projects. And it is likely that they still are. There is still an unresolved issue as to SVB’s loans and pledges, which leaves a giant gap in funding until a buyer shows up for SVB.[18] In addition, there are concerns about construction delays and meeting financing deadlines, which are critical for affordable housing businesses to meet in order to receive tax credits.[19] The recent acquisition does not seem to clear up any of these questions just yet.

The rest of the world is focusing on First Citizens’ acquisition of SVB and what it will mean for life science and tech companies, but those in the affordable housing industry will keep a close eye on whether First Citizens will commit to SVB’s level of community development for low-to-middle income households.[20] First Citizens did announce a 5-year, $16 Billion Community Benefits Plan in 2021,[21] so perhaps the affordable housing community can lean on the optimistic side while it waits for more details to unfold.

[1] See Vivian Giang, Banking Turmoil: What We Know, NY Times (Mar. 15, 2023),

[2] See Kari Paul & Johana Bhuiyan, Wineries to affordable housing: SVB fall knocks out more than startups, Guardian (Mar. 15, 2023),

[3] See Affordable Housing, Silicon Valley Bank, visited Apr. 10, 2023, 6:56 PM).

[4] See id.

[5] See Chuck Slothower, Affordable Housing Lenders Fill SVB’s Void in California, Law 360, (last visited Apr. 10, 2023, 6:57 PM).

[6] See Dana Hull & Sarah Holder, SVB didn’t just lend to startups. It was key partner for affordable housing, Bloomberg (Mar. 13, 2023, 5:30 PM),

[7] See id.

[8] See id.

[9] See Sarah Holder & Kriston Capps, Silicon Valley Bank Collapse Incites Construction Loan Chaos in California, Bloomberg (Mar. 16, 2023, 11:09 AM),

[10] See Abby Patkin, Wu unveils $67M plan to bring more affordable housing to Boston, (Feb. 16, 2023),

[11] See Josh Niland, The Silicon Valley Bank crash may carry huge implications for affordable housing development in Boston, Archinect News (Mar. 24, 2023, 5:27 PM),; see also Jennifer Smith, Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse could impact Mass. Affordable housing, Commonwealth Mag. (Mar. 13, 2023),

[12] See Smith, supra note 11.

[13] See id.

[14] See id.

[15] See id.

[16] See Slothower, supra note 5.

[17] TRD Staff, First Citizens’ SVB acquisition includes real estate loans, Real Deal (Mar. 27, 2023, 5:00 PM),

[18] See Smith, supra note 11.

[19] See Holder & Capps, supra note 9.

[20] Tom Callahan & Symone Crawford, Who will fill the vital role Silicon Valley Bank played in affordable housing?, Commonwealth Mag. (Mar. 29, 2023),

[21] First Citizens Bank, NCRC To Offer $16B Community Benefits Plan, NonProfit Times (Mar. 1, 2021),


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Fordham Journal of Corporate & Financial Law