Chapter Update: Knoxville
SOCM’s Knoxville Chapter has made great strides in pushing for concrete improvements in lending practices in Knoxville and across the region. In April, SOCM Board member Tiara-Lady Wilson was able to attend a meeting with housing advocacy groups across the region to participate in the negotiation for a community benefits agreement with a large bank. Lady spoke about the need for greater access to lending and banking services for black and low-income Knoxville residents.We are now moving forward with opportunities to engage local banks on their Community Reinvestment Act performance.
To prepare for the April meeting, the Chapter began an outreach campaign to share what we’ve learned about lending in Knoxville and how we hope to change it. Our first presentation was during the March Sunday Dinner at the Birdhouse Community Center; we shared a meal with friends and members of the Fourth and Gill community and gave a PowerPoint presentation and answered questions. We then presented twice in front of the NAACP’s Race and Housing Equity Task Force –first focusing more on our work and data, and then hosting a community discussion on ways our work can improve local equity outcomes. We’re looking forward to meetings with several neighborhood associations over the next two months.
We’re also excited to move forward with a co-hosting agreement for a series of financial literacy classes with Operation HOPE. We’re particularly interested in how young people can learn basic information about lending and credit scores to ensure they’re in good position to qualify for home ownership as they grow. Operation HOPE Coach Deborah Porter attended our April chapter meeting and answered questions about their programs, and we’re tentatively planning our first event in the Vestal neighborhood in early July.
Finally, we’re very excited for our first fundraising show on July 5th at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church –we’re finalizing the lineup and programming. We enjoyed tabling at the 2019 Knoxville Neighborhoods Conference, and we met many residents who are supportive of our work. We’ve also continued our weekly prayer vigil, ongoing since October, outside the City-County Building in downtown Knoxville.