News Release 2006-103 | September 25, 2006

Comptroller of the Currency Tours East D.C. Market Opportunities

WASHINGTON - Comptroller of the Currency John C. Dugan led a delegation of bankers, community representatives, and staff on a tour of community development projects in Wards 7 and 8 of Washington D.C. 

The tour showed participants a variety of projects focusing on affordable housing, small business finance, and financial literacy that were created by collaborations among lenders, non-profit organizations, and government partners.  The tour included stops at the Operation HOPE Center and the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization as well as projects sponsored by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation and local community development organizations.     

After the tour, the Comptroller issued the following statement:

Today, we had the privilege of visiting projects that represent the best of public-private partnerships.  Through such partnerships, we can rebuild communities and offer hope and opportunity to our citizens.  That is why these projects have my strong support.

I was impressed by the testimonials from people at the Operation HOPE Center and how the Center supports community needs through financial literacy workshops, loan packaging, and funding for mortgages, business, and commercial loans. 

I was equally impressed by the Washington View Redevelopment, just a short walk from the Anacostia metro that has turned abandoned structures into 353 units of affordable rental housing that includes an educational and activity center, 77 for-sale mid-rise condominiums, and 66 market rate for-sale town homes, all with a view of the U.S. Capitol.

And we also saw great work at the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization’s Willis Paul Greene Manor transitional housing facility.  The organization there helps residents with job searches, small business development, emergency food services, and youth development programs.

Several of these projects are the results of national bank financing through federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and New Markets Tax Credits using the public welfare investment authority commonly referred to as Part 24.  Over the past decade, national banks have invested more than $16 billion in community redevelopment under part 24 and have invested $638 million in the second quarter of 2006 alone.  These investments support critically needed urban revitalization, rural redevelopment, and job creation.  They do so in a manner that not only benefits the communities served, but also enjoys a solid track record of profitability and safety and soundness.  Current law caps national banks’ Part 24 investment authority at 10 percent of their capital. 

Part 24 has been remarkably successful in encouraging commercial investment that rebuilds and strengthens our communities, which is why I believe that the Part 24 limit should be raised to encourage more investment.   I therefore applaud House Financial Services Committee Chairman Mike Oxley and Ranking Member Barney Frank for introducing a bill that would raise the limit from 10 to 15 percent -- a change that could generate $30 billion in additional investment from national banks alone.  I encourage Congress to act swiftly on this legislation as a way to encourage more community revitalization throughout the country through projects like the ones we’ve seen today.

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