By Christopher Young,
The Hope family of development organizations is dedicated to strengthening communities, building assets and improving lives in the Delta and other economically challenged areas of Alabama, Arkansas , Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, and was a great success.
Comprised of a regional credit union (Hope Credit Union), a loan fund (Hope Enterprise Corporation) and a policy center (Hope Policy Institute), Hope provided financial services, mobilized private and public resources and shaped policies that have benefited over a million people. inhabitants of one of the poorest regions of the country.
These Hope entities were all founded by William J. “Bill” Bynum. Over their twenty-eight year history, their impact has continued to grow rapidly, and here are a few examples from just the last year:
• 125 mortgages, 90% to people of color, 64% to women and 87% to first-time buyers
• 456 affordable housing units funded, which housed 912 people
• 2,630 business loans totaling over $85 million, 71% of which went to people of color, helping to maintain and create 6,597 jobs
Recently on the WJTV Mississippi Insights program, Ed Sivak, one of Hope’s many executive vice presidents and director of policy and communications, shared with Melanie Christopher another new program that will address racial and gender gaps through to a $1 billion increase from the US Treasury Department.
“I think it’s important that we get up to speed with the challenges we face. Here in Mississippi, we don’t have equal access to financial services. We know that well over half of black households in the state do not have access to bank accounts or are underbanked, unlike a quarter of white households. In the case of loans and small business loans, the denial rates are quite different between these two groups. And also, there are inequitable outcomes in mortgage lending as well,” says Sivak.
He says the new program, Emergency Capital Investment Program (ECIP), will have more than $92 million to focus on providing loans to small businesses, to start businesses, mortgages, car loans, etc. that are overlooked and underserved by traditional financial institutions.
Regarding its statements, the Association for Enterprise Opportunity says of the wealth gap and its consequences: “The wealth gap – the difference between assets and debt – between white and black households in the United States is 13 to 1 but drops to 3 to 1 among small business owners Despite this evidence that business ownership is a driver of economic mobility, only 13% of Black-owned businesses and 20 % of Latinx-owned businesses said they received all funding requested from banks, compared to 40% for white-owned businesses.
In the Mississippi Insights interview, Sivak shared the story of a woman in Louisiana who tried to get a loan for an organic coffee shop — a black women-owned business — she was looking for $10,000 and was turned down. in a bank. She told Hope that “I couldn’t get the loan because these programs weren’t for people like me.” He said Hope took out the $10,000 loan and now has a website, thirteen stores selling her product in Louisiana, and she talks to some of the biggest retailers in the country.
He indicated that “there are thousands of people like this business owner – in the Delta, in the Alabama Black Belt and right here in Jackson Mississippi. We are here to serve them and through this program we will be able to serve them to levels we have never been able to reach before.
Program host Melanie Christopher asked, “So you recognize that Mississippi is of course still the poorest state in the country, do you think improving the lot of our lowest income communities can significantly improve our economy as a whole? Sivak replied, “We definitely need to make sure everyone has access to the tools to build wealth. You know, given the tools, anyone can prosper, anyone can be successful in our community, but the reality is that there have been laws put in place and barriers put in place, so people of color in particular might not have access to the tools of wealth creation that other people have had, and hope exists to overcome these barriers.
Christopher then asked about the fast approaching Mississippi legislative session: “What do lawmakers need to do now to give more Mississippians the chance to lift themselves out of poverty? The question really caught my ear, especially with the added emphasis in his voice on the words – lift up. Sivak said it’s important that we look at children in the state.
“Nine out of ten children in Mississippi are black or white, and the numbers are roughly equal, but the poverty rates in these two groups of children are markedly different. The rate is well over 40% for black children compared to 14% for white children.Until we recognize that solutions that invest in all people, especially our black children, are in the best interest of our state’s economy, the reality is that our potential economy as a state is capped,” Sivak replied.
Walk the boardwalk to Hope.