JPMorgan Chase plans to increase philanthropic investments and create up to 70 new branches and 700 new jobs in the Washington, D.C.-Maryland-Virginia region, an expansion that Chase executives say will benefit lower-income communities.

The firm will designate $4 billion to invest in affordable housing and small business development over the next five years, according to an April 19 news release. Its philanthropic investments in “underserved neighborhoods” are set to increase from $10 million to $25 million to fund skills training, aid expansion for minority-owned businesses and improve “consumer financial health.”

MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER JPMorgan Chase will increase philanthropic investments in the DMV region, a move that will benefit lower-income communities in the region, according to the firm.

The expansion is part of a response to new regulations and tax reforms that have brought capital to firms through corporate tax rate cuts, JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon said in an April 18 CBS News article.

“With this will come more than just new branches,” Dimon said in the April 19 news release. “We will combine the best of our business and philanthropy to help more communities benefit from regional economic growth.”

The new branch locations will increase housing accessibility for low-income neighborhoods, according to Jesse Meisenhelter, spokesperson for the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, an organization that works to increase fairness in banking, business and housing.

“In mortgage lending, bank branches still provide important access to mortgages for customers in low-income areas, and at lower rates,” Meisenhelter wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Research from a 2010 Federal Reserve study showed more mortgage loans and at lower rates in low-income neighborhoods that had more bank branches present.”

The locations will be subject to the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, which monitors lending practices of banks with physical branches in a community, ensuring Chase serves poorer residents, Miesenhelter said.

“JP Morgan Chase has benefitted by serving wealthy clients in Washington, D.C., while skirting any legal obligations to serve the rest of the district’s residents,” Meisenhelter wrote. “By opening bank branches in the district, the bank will be legally obliged to meet the credit needs of low and moderate-income residents.”

The bank has operated in the region, serving “some two million local customers” despite its lack of physical branch locations.

The expansion will aid the city’s lower-income residents, according to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D).

“We hope this expansion means that we will see more banking, not just where we have them already, but where we need them to be,” Bowser said in the April 19 news release. “We are proud to partner with JPMorgan Chase to ensure more residents are able to participate in the region’s prosperity.”

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) also welcomed the expansion, according to the April 19 press release.

Investment in the region comes on the heels of accusations of lending discrimination against Chase levied by reporters from the Center for Investigative Journalism.

The bank paid $55 million to settle a lawsuit over discriminatory lending practices in 2017, although it denied culpability. Black and Hispanic borrowers allegedly were charged $1,000 more on average than their white counterparts from 2006 to 2009.

The report reveals that this is not the only possible indiscretion.

Black people were granted only 23 home purchase loans out of the 1,119 Chase made in the region in 2015 and 2016, according to the report.

Analysis of JPMorgan Chase records from 2015-2016 show that there were “statistically significant disparities” in loans denied for all groups examined: black people, Asians, Latinos, and Native Americans, according to the Center for Investigative Journalism.

Although reporters identified such disparities in 61 metro areas, D.C. was the only region in which disparities were apparent for all groups examined. As Chase did not have physical branches in the area, its practices were legal.

The expansion will affect Wards 7 and 8 and is part of a larger expansion and philanthropic effort by the bank, which has already worked on ventures in cities such as its investment in Detroit.

“Detroit’s Entrepreneurs of Color Fund has made a great impact creating economic opportunity, and now we want to bring this same model to San Francisco and the South Bronx to help more entrepreneurs grow,” Dimon said in a Feb. 13 news release. “These cities are seeing tremendous growth. By expanding this fund, we will help ensure more small businesses thrive and create local jobs.”

The bank plans to expand into 15 to 20 new regions over the next five years following its D.C. expansion, according to the April 19 news release.

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