Congress is negotiating a sweeping stimulus package to offset the cascading damage wrought by the coronavirus. The package includes $500 billion for two waves of direct payments to taxpayers and an additional $500 billion in loans for businesses. To help small businesses specifically, those of us in the nonprofit small business lending space are coming together to ask Congress to apportion $1 billion of the $500 billion earmarked for businesses to go to the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund. The fund, which has strong bipartisan support, promotes economic revitalization in distressed communities throughout the country by supporting the work of the nation's network of community development financial institutions, or CDFIs. A supplemental appropriation of $1 billion to the fund will allow CDFIs across the country to leverage $12 billion in capital that will be deployed to communities in need.
The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Federal Reserve), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) (collectively, the agencies) recognize the potential for Coronavirus Disease (also referred to as COVID-19) to adversely affect the customers and operations of financial institutions. On March 9, 2020, the federal financial institution regulatory agencies and state bank regulators issued a statement to encourage financial institutions to meet the financial services needs of their customers and members in areas affected by COVID-19.
Promontory Interfinancial Network has named banking industry veterans Camden Fine and Ed Yingling to its board and former American Banker Editor-in-Chief Rob Blackwell as its chief content officer and head of external affairs. Fine was the head of the Independent Community Bankers of America for 15 years before retiring in 2018, while Yingling worked at the American Bankers Association for 26 years in various roles, including president and CEO. After leaving ABA in 2010, Yingling worked as a partner at Covington & Burling until departing in 2018 to run Edward Yingling Government Affairs. Fine is now the president and CEO of Calvert Adivsors. When they ran their respective trade groups, Fine and Yingling frequently had different perspectives about banking policy. The ICBA often took positions counter to the interests of large banks, but the ABA has both large banks and small banks among its members.
The new CEO of Houston's only black-owned bank is counting on a budding relationship with Citigroup to expand its product set and boost profits. Laurie Vignaud joined Unity National Bank of Houston in January from Capital One, where she was senior vice president of community development banking. She took the helm two months after the failure of City National Bank of New Jersey in Newark cut the ranks of banks owned or operated by African Americans to 21 — about half of what existed before the financial crisis. Vignaud said she is convinced that the 34-year-old Unity must embrace a new business model to survive. Unity is one of seven banks owned or operated by minorities enrolled in the Treasury Department's Financial Agent Mentor-Protégé program. The initiative pairs big banks that process financial transactions for the government with minority depository institutions. The smaller banks can earn fee income by taking on some of the workload. A key objective is to keep the smaller banks viable, which in turn will help them continue to address the needs of underserved communities. A handful of large banks, including Citi, JPMorgan Chase and U.S. Bancorp, are working with the minority-focused banks.
The CDFI Fund recently awarded 23 CDFIs Capital Magnet Fund awards for FY 2019. Among the awardees were Beneficial State Bank, Legacy Bank and Trust, United Bank, and Virginia Community Capital. The Capital Magnet Fund helps to create and preserve affordable housing for low-income families and economically distressed communities by attracting private capital. The Capital Magnet Fund awards competitive grants to CDFIs and qualified non-profit housing organizations. These organizations use the grants to develop, rehabilitate, reserve, and purchase affordable housing, particularly housing targeted to Low-, Very Low-, and Extremely Low-Income families.
The Crichlow family had been renting their modest home in North Miami for about 20 years. That changed last week, thanks to a Miami-Dade County-backed program targeting first-time homebuyers, and a loan from one of the largest black-owned banks in the United States, OneUnited Bank. The Crichlows say they found their dream home thanks to the program: A three-bedroom house in Miami Gardens with a "beautiful" kitchen and living room, according to Mrs. Crichlow, and a big yard. It is perfect for their two young sons. The gap between black and non-black homeownership rates remains substantial both nationally and in the Miami metro area. But the Miami market is outperforming national rates on an overall level of black homeownership, as well as in having closed the local racial gap.
Dominik Mjartan become president and CEO of what would become Optus Bank, an organization with a historic but rocky past, in September 2017. The bank, founded in 1921 as Victory Savings Banks and then known as S.C. Community Bank, was at its lowest point, reeling from the Great Recession of 2008, mired in a mess of non-performing assets and on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s troubled bank list. How the bank got from there to record assets, a swanky new downtown headquarters and a swelling sense of optimism involves the commitment of long-time believers — and their money — along with an infusion of fresh capital from new converts. “We need to make sure that economic opportunities are present and folks can improve their lives and make good choices for themselves,” Mjartan said. “I think every person should have a fair chance to earn a good living or to build a business or buy a house.” Optus’ remarkable turnaround bears out Mjartan’s belief. Since year-end 2016, the bank’s total assets have grown 51% to $80 million, up from a low of $47.8 million in September 2017, when Mjartan took over. Total deposits have grown to $71.2 million, a 50% increase since year-end 2016 and up from a low of $41.5 million.
Central Payments announced last month its seven-member advisory board for Falls Fintech, the organization's early-stage, onsite accelerator for upstart financial technology companies. Nikkee Rhody, Falls Fintech Managing Director and Co-founder, commented on the group: "This advisory board reflects our commitment to connecting accelerator participants with fintech pioneers and thought leaders, and this group's contributions have already been felt as we finalize plans for our inaugural cohort." Among the seven members is Bill Dana, Vice Chairman and former President/CEO at Central Bank of Kansas City.
City First Bank is thrilled to welcome Annie Donovan to the bank's Board of Directors. Donovan currently serves as Chief Operating Officer of Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a national nonprofit that works with community-based partners to make investments in housing, businesses, jobs, education, safety and health. "We are extremely fortunate to have the benefit of Annie's extraordinary leadership; impressive intellect; and deep experience with innovative and successful approaches for developing healthy, sustainable communities," said Brian E. Argrett, President and CEO of City First. "Her current and past work are in seamless alignment with City First's mission and values."
Although his own Treasury Department calls the Community Development Financial Institutions program a "thriving model of public-private partnership," President Trump on Monday once again proposed eliminating the program. The proposal was included in the Trump Administration's $4.8 Trillion FY21 budget released Monday. This year, the program received a $12 million increase, to $262 million, in the end-of-year spending deal enacted in December. The proposed cuts came even after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told a House appropriations subcommittee in April that the administration had not conducted research into the program's impact.