Biden announces actions to build Black wealth

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) – President Joe Biden announced new steps his administration is taking to build Black wealth and narrow the racial wealth gap in cities like Memphis.

© Provided by WMC Action News 5 Memphis President Joe Biden marks the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre.

President Biden unveiled his plan during a visit to Tulsa on Tuesday to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre.

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In 1921, a white mob in Tulsa destroyed one of the wealthiest Black communities in the country, Greenwood, which was nicknamed “Black Wall Street.”

The White House says decades of discriminatory practices have kept Black Americans from homeownership and access to credit, two vital things needed for building wealth.

“It’s about good-paying jobs, financial stability, being able to build some generational wealth,” Biden said.

According to the University of Memphis Poverty Fact Sheet, the median household income of white families in Shelby County is $82,050 compared to $39,766 for black families.

To narrow that wealth gap, the Biden Administration says it plans to change rules to crack down on housing discrimination such as the practice of intentionally undervaluing homes in Black neighborhoods.

The Administration also plans to increase federal contracting to disadvantaged small businesses by 50%.

“The data shows young black entrepreneurs are just as capable of succeeding given the chance as white entrepreneurs are,” Biden said.

The wealth gap has been a central topic of conversation between Memphis activists and members of the business community, who are working together to find strategies to build wealth in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

Memphis Chamber President Beverly Robertson, who brought the two sides together in an initiative called Protest to Progress, says the city can’t move forward until the wealth issue is properly addressed.

“A lot of these inner-city communities have been disinvested in,” said Robertson. “They’ve been disinvested in, so we’ve got to reinvest to build a wealth equity in those communities, and we’ve got to understand that we need to be creating some business enterprises within those communities.”

The NAACP is criticizing President Biden’s plan because it doesn’t address student loan debt.

They say you can’t close the wealth gap until you address that.

“You cannot begin to address the racial wealth gap without addressing the student loan debt crisis,” said Derrick Johnson, the president of the NAACP.

In addition to the two new actions announced on Tuesday, the White House released new information to show how the president’s American Jobs Plan would help also build wealth in communities of color. It includes the following:

  • A new $10 billion Community Revitalization Fund to support community-led civic infrastructure projects that create innovative shared amenities, spark new local economic activity, provide services, build community wealth, and strengthen social cohesion.
  • $15 billion for new grants and technical assistance to support the planning, removal, or retrofitting of existing transportation infrastructure that creates a barrier to community connectivity, including barriers to mobility, access, or economic development.
  • A new Neighborhood Homes Tax Credit to attract private investment in the development and rehabilitation of affordable homes for low- and moderate-income homebuyers and homeowners.
  • $5 billion for the Unlocking Possibilities Program, an innovative new grant program that awards flexible and attractive funding to jurisdictions that take steps to reduce needless barriers to producing affordable housing and expand housing choices for people with low or moderate incomes.
  • $31 billion in small business programs that will increase access to capital for small businesses and provide mentoring, networking, and other forms of technical assistance to socially and economically disadvantaged businesses seeking to access federal contracts and participate in federal research and development investments.

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