Coalition Wins $60 Billion Community Investment Plan

The Knoxville Chapter is excited to share our biggest victory in years! On July 16th, BB&T, SunTrust, and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition announced a $60 billion community investment plan, the largest plan of its kind. SOCM is proud to be a signatory to this plan, representing months of work that our chapter put into collecting and sharing information on community investment needs in Knoxville.

The largest provision in the plan is a $31 billion commitment for mortgage lending to low-to-moderate income borrowers and borrowers of color, which will lead to tens of thousands of new homes purchased by under-served communities. Additional provisions focus on small business lending, community development lending and investment, and philanthropy.

The merger of the two banks will also lead to 15 new branches in under-served neighborhoods and will come with new plans to increase racial equity in the new bank’s hiring and supplier contracting.

A comprehensive rural services strategy is in development.Knoxville Chapter members presented at community groups and neighborhood associations through the first half of 2019, sharing information on discriminatory lending and collecting ideas for what responsible implementation of a community benefits plan would look like in Knoxville.

Chapter Board Representative Tiara-Lady Wilson presented on the results of this process before senior staff of both BB&T and SunTrust in Atlanta during a series of listening sessions that led to the final agreement. SOCM members will continue to be vigilant to make sure this plan benefits the most under-served Knoxville communities. The chapter isn’t content to rest on our laurels, however.

In late August, we submitted a letter in the Community Reinvestment Act(CRA) file of a local bank that has been under performing in its mortgage lending to low income borrowers, in community development investing, and in banking access to communities of color. We hope to use this comment as a starting point to work with the bank to improve its CRA performance.

We’re proud to be joined with 12 local grassroots organizations and service providers in submitting this comment, and we look forward to inviting them to join us when we receive a response. Our focus will be improving access to banking services and opportunities to build wealth among black residents of Knoxville.

SOCM was also proud to co-host the Knoxville stop of the Tennessee Valley Energy Democracy Tour, along with Appalachian Voices, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the Alliance House Community Coalition, Working Films, and Science for the People –East Tennessee. SOCM, the Alliance House, and SACE presented the data from our 2018 Alliance House Energy Equity Initiative, demonstrating the extreme energy burden that low-income communities in Knoxville face. We also walked through the operation and history of TVA and took suggestions for a just energy future in the Tennessee Valley with the 50+ people in attendance. We hope to use this feedback to contribute to a campaign for meaningful TVA reform.

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Chapter Update: Knoxville

SOCM’s Knoxville Chapter has made great strides in pushing for...