Helping to close racial wealth gap
Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-43), the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, has accepted the 2023 Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Congressional Champion Awards from the Opportunity Finance Network. This award honors Members of Congress who have been leaders in support of the CDFI industry.
“It’s an honor to receive the Congressional Champion Award for my work to support community development financial institutions across the country and in my community in Los Angeles. As we know, underserved communities face serious systemic challenges in the banking system, which makes the role of our nation’s CDFIs that much more important,” Waters said. “Rest assured, I will continue fighting to support CDFIs so they can continue building bridges to economic stability and wealth for underserved communities. I applaud the Opportunity Financial Network and their members for their leadership, and I look forward to continuing this work together.”
Over the years, Waters has led the effort to support CDFIs and ensure underserved people and communities across the country and Los Angeles have access to affordable, responsible financial products and services:
• After Congress passed the CARES Act in March 2020, launching the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Waters worked with then chair of the Small Business Committee Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez to secure a $60 billion set aside for community financial institutions in the PPP, including CDFI loan funds, to ensure diverse and truly small businesses could quickly access the relief they need to keep their doors open and survive.
• In December 2020, Waters and Senator Warner worked together to secure an unprecedented $12 billion in capital investments and grants for CDFIs and Minority Depository Institutions (MDI) to allow them to expand and provide the support that all communities deserve, including to small businesses and businesses owned by people of color, which were the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Whenever Waters meets with big bank CEOs, she asks what they are doing to help CDFIs and MDIs and presses them for updates to make sure those commitments are fulfilled.
• Last Congress, the House passed Waters’ bill entitled “Promoting and Advancing Communities of Color Through Inclusive Lending Act” as part of a broader package of racial economic justice reforms and will reintroduce this bill again this Congress. If enacted, this bill would authorize $4 billion in additional capital, grants, technology support, and other reforms to support MDIs and CDFIs.
• Waters also worked with Senator Warner to send a letter to the Government Accountability Office, requesting a study to identify the technology needs that CDFIs and MDIs have and policy options to address those challenges, and along with several other colleagues, a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, urging them to ensure that investments through the new Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund are administered in a way that collaborates with and empowers CDFIs and other community financial institutions to ensure we bring clean energy investments to underserved communities, especially communities of color.