DC partners with Treasury Department to give Washingtonians a ‘fair shot’ at credit and finance

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Monday that the city is partnering with the U.S. Treasury Department to give small businesses and residents in the District greater access to credit and capital.

The program, called DC REACh, aims to promote financial inclusion for underserved communities. D.C. is only the second location in the United States to launch the financial inclusion initiative, which was developed by the Treasury Department’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) in July 2020.

“This initiative is about removing the structural barriers to capital and credit that prevent too many people from getting their fair shot,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a news release. “By bringing everyone to the table, we can focus on creating solutions that help more Washingtonians buy homes, start businesses, and build wealth.”

Bowser made the announcement on the first day of #FairShot Week, which her administration designed to highlight opportunities for local businesses and speed up the city’s economic recovery.

The #FairShot kick-off event was held Monday at the Pop-Up Collaborative in Northwest, where the mayor announced $3.3 million in new grants made available to small businesses through the city’s Great Streets Retail Small Business Grant Program.

DC REACh falls under the umbrella of the Treasury Department’s Project REACh, which stands for Roundtable for Economic Access and Change. The program brings together leaders from the banking industry, national civil rights organizations, business and technology to reduce barriers that prevent full and fair participation in the nation’s economy.

Nationally, Project REACh focuses on several areas:

  • Creating an alternative credit scoring method to help millions of Americans who face less accessible and more expensive credit because they have no usable credit scores.
  • Expanding affordable housing options to help families build wealth by converting bank-owned housing inventories into affordable homes through low-cost transfer and renovation loans.
  • Providing technical assistance and other support for minority-owned banks and small businesses, which play critical roles in their communities but face challenges accessing capital and other resources.

“Project REACh is a convening forum with the important goal of tearing down barriers that keep our financial system from providing the same full, fair, and equal access to everyone,” OCC Acting Comptroller Michael J. Hsu said in the news release. “With the launch of concentrated efforts here in D.C., this initiative has the potential to provide meaningful opportunities that will benefit many businesses and consumers in the nation’s capital.”

DC REACh will focus on affordable homeownership, improving access to credit and supporting small and minority-owned businesses. It will be administered by the District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB).

Anna Gawel

Anna Gawel joined WTOP in 2020 and works in both the radio and digital departments. Anna Gawel has spent much of her career as the managing editor of The Washington Diplomat, which has been the flagship publication of D.C.’s diplomatic community for over 25 years.

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