Alyhia Ortiz, owner of fitness and nutrition business Crenshaw, wants to take her business to the next level, but like so many black-owned businesses, Tone Body Fitness has faced challenges.
“I am a woman,” Ortiz said. “I am a woman of color.”
Today, Chase Bank opened a new branch in the Crenshaw neighborhood of South Los Angeles to help business owners in underserved communities thrive. The branch provides Ortiz with mentoring, marketing and, she hopes, access to enough capital to buy her own building.
The bank has opened a new community center in Crenshaw District, which will do banking operations and showcase local businesses, according to Jamie Dimon, CEO of Chase Bank.
“We want people to feel comfortable trusting this place and seeing it as part of their community,” said Dimon.
He added that $ 12 billion from Chase’s $ 30 billion race equity program will be earmarked for mortgages, including $ 5,000 down payment grants.
But critics say some banks still engage in redlining – the illegal practice of discriminating against African Americans by calling their applications “riskier,” which began in the 1930s when federal housing programs refused to insure mortgages in or near black neighborhoods.
“I wouldn’t call it redlining,” Dimon said. “Sometimes it has to do with the valuation of the house.”
Community leader Daniel Carter is the founder of “Buy Back the Block LA,” a group that meets monthly with people in Southern LA to educate them about gentrification.
“If you don’t have the money to qualify to repay a loan, you still won’t be able to buy a home,” Carter said. “People have to have the income, have to have the money, have to have access to the funds to buy the houses they want to live in.”
“By the way, the government can do things to make mortgages cheaper – their origination requirements, the service requirements, they’re so tough,” Dimon added.
According to Dimon, the Crenshaw Chase branch is currently processing more than a dozen loans. Ortiz bases his dreams on this promise of support.
“It’s almost like it’s gotten colorful… It was predictable, it was tangible,” she said.
While it may take a little longer to achieve that goal of full racial equity that the community has been working towards for so long, Dimon said, each step brings things a little closer together.
“Not everything will work, but keep fighting for a long time, eventually we will get closer,” he said.