Communities do not trust institutions. Here’s how we get it back.
Americans have lost faith in the ability of large institutions such as the federal government, national media, and large companies — even large banks — to understand or care for their needs. This view is justified, especially among colored communities and low-income households. Simply put, our country has done a bad job of seeking and creating opportunities for all. We need to better understand the unique needs of communities in the United States and show, listen, and make the right investments and decisions to regain our trust. The impact is most effective and sustainable when local.
Here in California, especially many communities are struggling. Last week alone, the LA Times reported that Los Angeles had lost more than 160,000 residents to external migration in the first year of the pandemic. On top of that, reports show that nearly half a million Los Angeles residents do not have access to affordable housing. Part of this movement may be due to demographic change, but this trend is also pointing to deeper, systemic problems around racial justice and institutional failures to tackle local problems with local solutions. A local bank branch, especially in a low-income neighborhood, can only be successful when it meets the needs of its customers.
That is why, over the last few years, we have shifted our approach to branches to promote justice by supporting our black, Hispanic, and Latin American communities with access to financial health education and available banking services to help build wealth. These branches of the community center are unique spaces in the heart of urban communities. Starting with Haarlem, we opened 11 more in communities such as the Crenshaw neighborhood here in Los Angeles, another in Auckland and others in southern Chicago, and the Anacostia neighborhood in Washington, DC
Most of them opened after our $ 30 billion commitment to racial justice, which we announced in October 2020. These centers have more space for community events, small business mentoring sessions and financial health seminars. Most are built by minority entrepreneurs and we hire local artists to bring them to life. There are plans for 17 of these unique branches in the underserved communities by the end of the year, expanding to Miami, Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Tulsa. And by the end of last month, we had upgraded over 250 existing branches with spaces for the community to use.
We also want our branches to represent the neighborhoods they serve, so we continue to hire from our local communities. The Community Center Manager is a new role in the bank, whose main task is to serve as local ambassadors to build trust and nurture relationships with community leaders, non-profit partners and small businesses. Across the country, we have already hired nearly 150 people to perform these roles, and here in Los Angeles, we have hired 11 community managers from 2021. In the last year, they have hosted more than 1,300 public events, reaching over 36,000 people across the country.
In Los Angeles, our community managers are proud Angelenos. Some are Dreamers, others come from single-parent families, some speak several languages. But they are all from the communities they serve. We want people who live and work in our communities to feel welcome and included when they visit our branches. We ask them to come as they are and bring their family and even their dog. And as an acquaintance of the neighborhood, our community managers earn the trust of our neighbors.
I personally attended many solemn openings of the branches of our community center. We are hosting mayors, community partners, students and small business clients who have shared a sense of pride and optimism about what this means for their community. Our community managers and branch teams are always at the forefront and center of these events, demonstrating how deeply connected they are to the structure of the area. One such example is our work with the City of Los Angeles, where our community managers provide financially healthy content to employees in the city, and recently partnered to support their youth development department in Angeleno.
We know that in order to be sustainable, this effort must be measured by results. Our company closely monitors the number of accounts opened, the number of mortgages financed, new small business loans and many other indicators to ensure that we achieve results and listen to feedback so that we can have an even greater impact on closing the wealth gap. Last October, we published a detailed report on our work on racial justice and we intend to be responsible, learn and share our experience in community building through community banking.
We also take a local approach to our community investment and advocate for local policy decisions. Our business is as strong as our communities, so we are expanding our investments in places like Mattapan in Boston and Oak Cliff in Dallas to help small businesses from local minorities gain access to the capital and support they need to to develop. We have expanded our homebuyer grant program to $ 5,000 to help more customers cover closing costs and down payments when buying homes in 6,700 minority neighborhoods across the country. We are also looking at alternative credit outcomes and other ways to increase home ownership in underserved communities and build the wealth and stability of generations. Although it is too early, our approach promises to create a real local impact and help restore the trust that Americans deserve.
Communities do not trust institutions. This is how we’re regaining it. – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel Source link Communities do not trust institutions. This is how we’re regaining it. – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel