House adopts ‘long overdue’ financial equity agenda
The House on Wednesday passed a package that addresses racial disparities in jobs, income and access to affordable credit.
The package aims to address inequality by increasing access to federal credit unions in underserved communities and promote access to fair housing. It will also provide funding to minority-owned financial institutions and community development financial institutions “whose work is critical to serving low-income communities,” said co-sponsored Rep. Carolyn Maloney (DN.Y.).
Rep. Alma Adams (DN.C.) tweeted that the package “builds on work in progress” and is “long overdue.”
One of the bills in the package, the Expanding Financial Access to Communities Act, was previously introduced by Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) during her time on the Services Committee. financial.
“Growing up during the civil rights movement, I saw black Americans gaining civil rights that had long been denied them and finally receiving basic housing,” Moore said in a statement. “But even after gaining those freedoms, black people had to and continue to catch up financially.”
In 2017, the Federal Reserve found that more than half of black-owned businesses that applied for loans were turned down. And during the pandemic, many Black-owned businesses have been denied loans from banks’ Paycheck Protection Program, forcing them instead to turn to fintech loans.
Similar trends follow applicants of color when it comes to applying for personal loans, like mortgages. The Associated Press reported last August that lenders were 80% more likely to reject black applicants than white applicants.
The problem not only leads to a potential lack of home ownership, but an inability to create generational wealth.
“The people who have been sidelined are disproportionately black and brown,” co-sponsor Nikema Williams (D-Ga.) said in a statement to The Hill. “Nearly 14% of all black households are unbanked. … We are taking a step to end these financial injustices and ensure that everyone can share in America’s promise, regardless of their bank account, regardless of their zip code.
In addition to providing funding, the package will also track diversity and inclusion data from banks, assess how they serve LGBTQ+ communities, and ensure mortgage lenders work with non-English speaking borrowers in their native language.
Other parts of the package, like the amendments introduced by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), address inclusivity for Americans with disabilities.
Speaking in the House on Wednesday, Pressley said policies and financial systems have forced Americans with disabilities into a “second-class standard of living.”
Pressley’s amendments to the law prohibit financial creditors from discriminating against consumers with disabilities, increase access to interpreting services, including American Sign Language, and require companies to disclose self-disability statuses. identification of their board of directors and their leaders.
“Numerous studies have shown that simply disclosing this information can have a positive effect on board diversity, which in turn has a positive impact on a company’s financial performance,” Maloney said in a statement.
Sponsored by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) and also co-sponsored by Democratic Reps. Jesús García (Illinois), Joyce Beatty (Ohio), and Brad Sherman (California), the law passed 215-207 along party lines .