Congress created the Paycheck Protection Program with good intentions: help small businesses both to survive and avoid laying off their employees. Giving out over $500 billion certainly helped, but PPP has run its course. Rather than applying for the $130 billion still available, millions of small businesses will close down. Small businesses and workers still need help, but we need a better way to provide it. Fortunately, there are bipartisan proposals already in Congress to do that.
What role should banks play to build post-pandemic resilience? Banks were the problem in 2008. In 2020 they could speed the path to recovery, for example, by helping small businesses weather shelter-in-place orders. The banking industry has an opportunity to make good on its promise to communities as an essential service to be protected. But it takes all of us who work at banks, advocates who challenge the status quo, and customers who expect nothing less than equitable committed service.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund has awarded $265 million to five CDFI banks and their affiliated entities, all of which are CDBA members. The CDFI bank awards are as follows: $50 million to Carver Financial Corporation, affiliated with Carver State Bank of Savannah, GA; $50 million to Harbor Bankshares Corporation, affiliated with The Harbor Bank of Maryland in Baltimore, MD; $50 million to SB New Markets CDE, LLC, affiliated with Sunrise Banks of Saint Paul, MN; $50 million to Southern Bancorp of Arkadelphia, AK; $65 million to UB Community Development LLC, affiliated with United Bank of Atmore, AL
The Small Business Administration (SBA) released details about Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The data doesn't cover all PPP loans—just those over $150,000. That still includes more than 660,000 loans valued at more than $429 billion,* about 84% of the $510 billion in PPP loans that have been issued. The data begs three questions: 1) Who got what? 2) Where did they get it from? and 3) How well did the loans perform? To put it mildly, the veracity of the PPP loan data set is questionable.
Calls for swift action to end systemic racism have gotten louder in the seven weeks since the death of George Floyd, and expectations have mounted for banks to play a major role — especially when it comes to closing the income gap between whites and Blacks. At National Cooperative Bank in Arlington, Va., a focus on hiring and promoting more minorities ramped up in February 2019 when the $2.7 billion-asset bank began a series of discussions and exercises on unconscious bias. John Holdsclaw IV, executive vice president of strategic initiatives, said the bank, which was created by Congress in 1978 and must make 35% of its loans to low- to moderate-income communities, is in the early stages of making changes that will include affinity groups and, perhaps one day, hiring goals for minorities.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency announced the launch of Project REACh to promote financial inclusion through greater access to credit and capital. REACh stands for Roundtable for Economic Access and Change and brings together leaders from the banking industry, national civil rights organizations, business, and technology to identify and reduce barriers that prevent full, equal, and fair participation in the nation’s economy. Participants in the inaugural meeting included Brian Argrett of City First Bank of DC and Wayne Bradshaw of Broadway Federal Bank.
NCRC has recommended an approach that will make CRA ratings more rigorous. This white paper describes NCRC's suggested rating system and discusses our forecasts of increased dollars for LMI neighborhoods. The paper focused on community development (CD) financing. CD financing targets affordable housing, economic development projects and community facilities in LMI neighborhoods. NCRC suspects that the agencies have been lax in their examination of CD financing.
Consumers can push for racial justice – and it's as simple as opening an account at a community bank or credit union that supports under-served communities. Across the U.S., there are more than 1,000 Community Development Financial Institutions, or CDFIs. These institutions specialize in under-served communities and more than a third of their banks are led by minorities. One analysis found that more than 40% of CDFI’s loans and investments are in majority-minority communities. OneUnited Bank, a Black-owned CDFI, offers “second-chance checking” for individuals who might have a hard time opening accounts elsewhere due to imperfect banking histories. Anyone can join the bank, which has offices in Los Angeles, Boston and Miami.
Congress provided a lifeline for small businesses in late March: the Paycheck Protection Program, a $349 billion program to facilitate government-backed, forgivable loans intended to keep businesses afloat. Demand was high when the program launched in early April: the allocated funding ran out in less than two weeks and many Community Development Funding Institutions (CDFIs) like Sky-Tucker's felt left out. The more than 1,000 CDFIs across the country provide education, investments, and loans to low-to-moderate income individuals and businesses that usually can't access credit at larger banks, and who are most at risk during an economic downturn. With Congress set to start negotiating another relief package in later in July, CDFIs are looking to the future and seeking new funding mechanisms to support their clients.
Darrin Williams was already out sick for a few days — not Coronavirus-related — when Minneapolis police officers killed George Floyd. Williams, who is Black, has a 21-year-old son and a 20-year-old daughter. “Every Black parent has to have that conversation about the police with their kids,” he says. He is also the CEO of Southern Bancorp, a bank with $1.5 billion in assets, serving small cities and rural areas of Arkansas and the Mississippi Delta region. Banks didn’t create systemic racism by themselves, and they won’t solve it by themselves. But banks have played an important role in creating and sustaining systemic racism, and Williams still believes they can play a role in ending it.