DALLAS — The chairman of the Federal Reserve acknowledged WFAA’s “Banking Below 30” series in a congressional hearing this week, saying he was troubled by our investigation showing how for years, banks have refused to lend money in low-income minority communities in Southern Dallas in violation of federal law.
"I've had a chance to look at it. It's very troubling on its face, the article,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said during a House Financial Services Committee hearing Wednesday.
“It shows we need real vigilance in making sure that banks honor their obligations to serve minority communities, low- and moderate-income communities, within their operating areas," Powell said. "That one got our attention. We can't talk about individual institutions of course, but we take this very seriously."
The hearing was chaired by Rep. Maxine Waters of California, who a day earlier also participated in a congressional panel organized by Dallas Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson in response to the “Banking Below 30” investigation.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Powell was asked about the WFAA series by Democratic Congressman Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri. Cleaver, who was born in Ellis County and has family in Texas, called WFAA’s reporting about financial neglect in Southern Dallas minority communities "disturbing."
Cleaver said he was in favor of strengthening the Community Reinvestment Act, the 1970s-era law that requires banks to lend equitably to both wealthy and low-income neighborhoods of all races.
Powell has also expressed a desire for CRA reform.
Appointed to the Federal Reserve board of governors in 2012 by President Barack Obama and promoted to fed chairman in 2018 by President Donald Trump, Powell has long signaled he favors strengthening the CRA, as he did in remarks at a 2019 conference on economic development at Mississippi Valley State University.
In May, speaking at a National Community Reinvestment Coalition conference, Powell said “we will only reach our full potential when everyone can contribute to and share in the benefits of prosperity.”