Biden-Harris Administration aims to close racial wealth gap 

“Let us continue to fight to make sure all people have a chance to realize their dreams and to determine their own future,” said Vice President Kamala Harris.

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This week, Vice President Kamala Harris announced several actions that the Biden-Harris administration has taken to ensure that financial lenders are sending resources to underserved small businesses in their communities while speaking at the U.S. Department of the Treasury Freedman’s Bank Forum in Washington, D.C.

Vice President Kamala Harris
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris delivers remarks during the Freedman’s Bank Forum in the Cash Room at the Treasury Department on October 04, 2022 in Washington, DC. According to the department, the forum is focused on “efforts to increase economic opportunity and growth for communities of color and address the persistent drivers of the racial wealth divide.” (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

More than 100 people attended the forum on Tuesday to hear the administration’s new efforts to “advance racial equity.” 

“Black entrepreneurs are three times more likely to report they did not apply for a loan for fear of being turned away by a bank,” said Harris.

She added, “Black and Latino homeowners are rejected by traditional financial institutions at a higher rate when applying for home loans.” 

Due to the disparities minorities face when compared to their white counterparts, the vice president said that she and President Joe Biden collaborated with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Congresswoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., “to invest $12 billion in community lenders…that predominantly do business in overlooked and underserved communities.”

Earlier this year, the administration also launched the Economic Opportunity Coalition, which is comprised of more than 20 private-sector organizations that have committed to investing more than $1 billion into minority and rural communities.

“We see that people in our country are having an experience that is not equal and that’s why we talk about equity, because we recognize not everybody starts out on the same base,” said Harris. “They don’t start out in the same place, even though they have the same God-given capacity.”

Allan Boomer, a managing partner at Momentum Advisors, one of the largest Black-owned wealth management firms in the U.S., told theGrio, that, “The [racial] wealth gap is massive. It won’t close overnight and no matter what you do to try to close it, it’s not enough.”

He added, “I say that as a preface because I think many will criticize this plan and say it’s not enough. I will say it differently. At least it’s something … I do think that it could be better, but I think everything in it is solid. I just think that it doesn’t go far enough.”

During the forum, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge delivered remarks and unveiled ways in which the Biden-Harris administration plans to close the racial wealth gap in the U.S. 

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge speaks during the Freedman’s Bank Forum in the Cash Room at the Treasury Department on October 04, 2022 in Washington, DC. According to the department, the forum is focused on “efforts to increase economic opportunity and growth for communities of color and address the persistent drivers of the racial wealth divide.” (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Fudge said in order to help “communities that have long been burdened by structural racism,” HUD is expanding “access to homeownership and opportunity” for minorities. 

She added, “Student loans can also be a profound impact on people’s ability to qualify for a mortgage. That is why we have neutralized it so that it does not prevent hardworking people from …becoming a homeowner.” 

While Boomer believes it can be “hard for the government to identify a specific race of people and do things for them,” he believes the Biden-Harris administration should hone in on the Black community and close the racial wealth gap through homeownership.

“The real wealth gap is between Black folks and white folks,” he said, arguing that, at this time, the focus should not include other minority groups if the goal is to eradicate the racial wealth gap. 

Boomer explained, “For decades it was redlining that not only restricted our access to certain neighborhoods, it also greatly reduced and eliminated our ability to obtain mortgages. 

“So you can’t get a mortgage you don’t have access to the American dream,” he added.

The Biden-Harris administration will “help a lot of folks” with its financial equity plan, he said, “but it’s not necessarily all going towards the folks who need it the most.”

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