Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), held the inaugural meeting of a new advisory group focused on public policies that support minority depository institutions (MDIs) and community development financial institutions (CDFIs), whose mission includes supporting low- and moderate-income communities, communities of color, and minority-owned businesses. In addition to staff from the offices of Chairwoman Waters, Senator Warner and the Office of Vice President Harris, the participants in the first meeting of the advisory group include: Jeannie Jacokes, Community Development Bankers Association; Robert James, National Bankers Association; Cathie Mahon, Inclusiv; Charles Phillips, Black Economic Alliance; Jennifer Vasiloff, Opportunity Finance Network
Congress created the Paycheck Protection Program in March 2020 as an emergency stopgap for what lawmakers expected to be a few months of sharp economic disruption. But as the pandemic raged on, the program — which made its first loans one year ago this past week — has turned into the largest small-business support program in American history, sending $734 billion in forgivable loans to struggling companies. The program helped nearly seven million businesses retain workers. But it has also been plagued by complex, changing rules at every stage of its existence. And one year in, it has become clear that the program's hasty rollout and design hurt some of the most vulnerable businesses. A New York Times analysis of data from several sources — including the Small Business Administration, which is managing the loan program — and interviews with dozens of small businesses and bankers show that Black- and other minority-owned businesses were disproportionately underserved by the relief effort, often because they lacked the connections to get access to the aid or were rejected because of the program's rules. Southern Bancorp and Beneficial State Bank are mentioned.
The OCC today announced last month the appointment of new members to its Minority Depository Institutions Advisory Committee and the Mutual Savings Association Advisory Committee. Joining the council will be Brian Argrett, president and CEO of City First Bank of DC, Washington, D.C.; Jody Lee, chairwoman of Southwestern National Bank, Houston; Beverly Meek, CRA director of Flagstar Bank, Troy, Michigan; Thomas Ogaard, president and CEO of Native American Bank, Denver; Joe Quiroga, president of Texas National Bank, Mercedes, Texas; Kelly Skalicky, president and CEO of Stearns Bank, St. Cloud, Minnesota; and Laurie Vignaud, president and CEO of Unity National Bank, Houston.
The Federal Reserve will conduct a national survey of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) from March 22-April 23. CDFIs are specialized financial institutions operating in markets that are underserved by traditional financial institutions, and they have been at the forefront of the economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Participating CDFIs will be asked questions about their capitalization, capacity and the impact of COVID-19 on their organizations, clients and communities. The Federal Reserve Board of Governors, Federal Reserve Banks and the CDFI Fund intend to use the survey data to inform research and policymaking. The survey data will also provide important benchmark information on how CDFIs are faring in the COVID-19 crisis and how they are serving low-income and minority populations. Finally, responses will be used to update a national CDFI directory for business, government, community leaders, investors and policymakers.
The data analysis firm 60 Decibels released last month the results of a survey conducted with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) borrowers of six Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), including CDBA members Southern Bancorp and Optus Bank. 60 Decibels interviewed 1,073 PPP borrowers for this survey, one third of whom originally sought assistance from a non-CDFI lender. Of the borrowers who initially sought assistance from another lender, 84% indicated that their experience with a CDFI bank was better than their experience with the other lender.
Can community development financial institutions be anti-racist? As financial institutions, CDFIs inherit the very tools of capitalism that have wreaked havoc on communities of color for decades in repeated cycles of cynical wealth extraction. Can any organization overcome that history? CDFIs believe that they can use the tools of capitalism for good. But without deep analysis and interrogation, each tool should remain suspect.
Banks have been permanently shuttering branches for years, but the number of closures hit a record in 2020 as the pandemic accelerated the move by many customers to online banking. Banks closed 3,324 branches last year, according to a tally by S&P Global Market Intelligence. "In the last 60 days, I've had two mayors reach out to me saying, 'Would you bring a bank branch here?' " says Darrin Williams, CEO of Southern Bancorp, which specializes in underserved communities. "In a lot of the rural communities we serve, the bank branch is part of the social fabric," Williams said. "If you go to Truman, Ark., on a payday Friday, there are going to be 10 people deep in the line. People want to come to that bank branch because it's social."
A hundred years ago, Brooklyn was teeming with mutual savings banks. There was the Brooklyn Savings Bank, the Dime Savings Bank of Brooklyn, the South Brooklyn Savings Bank, the Williamsburg Savings Bank, ... but they are all gone. A mutual savings bank does not have shareholders and is operated on behalf of its depositors. Most, including three of the four remaining mutual savings banks in the city with branches in Brooklyn, Ridgewood Savings Bank and Cross County Savings Bank (founded in 1888 as Bushwick Savings & Loan Association of New York) out of Queens, and Ponce Bank out of the Bronx, were established by local residents for local residents about a hundred years ago to help improve their lot by saving and homeownership. They were, and one could argue, still are the quintessential community banks.
Emma C. Chappell, 80, of Philadelphia, who galvanized Black Americans around the country in 1992 when she opened United Bank of Philadelphia, died Tuesday, March 16, of complications due to sepsis at Riddle Memorial Hospital in Media. Mrs. Chappell lived in Wynnefield Heights. She was the first Black woman to found a bank since Maggie Lena Walker established the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank in Richmond, Va., in 1903. However, Mrs. Chappell was the first Black woman to charter a commercial bank in the country, said Joann Bell, cofounder of the Black Women's Leadership Council.
Later this spring, the CDFI Fund will be accepting applications for a new grant program, the Small Dollar Loan Program. The Small Dollar Loan Program was created to encourage Certified CDFIs to establish and maintain small dollar loan programs and provide alternatives to high cost small dollar loans. For this program, small dollar loans are unsecured loans of up to $2,500. The grants may be used for two eligible activities, loan loss reserves and technical assistance activities. More information about the Small Dollar Loan Program, including details about the application and the requirements to apply, will be made available soon. However, organizations interested in applying for FY 2021 funds should start their preparations now by following the “Getting Ready to Apply” steps outlined here.