Magazine article American Banker

House Panel Seeks Banking Blitz to Aid a Mainly Black Community

Magazine article American Banker

House Panel Seeks Banking Blitz to Aid a Mainly Black Community

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- The House Banking Committee is taking a novel path in its fight against lending discrimination: It will challenge regulators and bankers to quickly improve performance a single community.

The committee wants the banking agencies, industry officials, and community groups to work together to dramatically improve bank lending and services in a predominately black area of Prince Georges County, Md., just east of Washington.

Currently, three dozen branches of 11 banks -- including NationsBank, Maryland National Bank, and Crestar -- are located there.

Announcement Due Friday

The initiative will be announced al a committee hearing in Maryland on Friday.

The "challenge area" lies in the district of Rep. Albert Wynn, a committee Democrat who has taken a particular interest in minority lending.

The committee wanted to track an area in its own backyard, after The Washington Post highlighted lending disparities in the Washington area.

Committee Chairman Henry B. Gonzalez, D-Tex., intends to revisit the area in a year to judge which strategies have been effective.

The committee hopes that shining a spotlight there will spur creative initiatives by both regulators and bankers to increase mortgage and small-business lending to poor and moderate-income communities. They also hope that banks will improve the number and quality of branches in the area.

"We're really going to be saying to the regulators: Look, show us some results here," a committee spokesperson said. …

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