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Why you should be banking with Citizens Trust Bank

A historical Black-owned bank working to increase home ownership in Atlanta and Birmingham

Black people in this country have faced discrimination from the banking industry since the abolishment of slavery. Whether this is simply being turned down for loans by racist individuals working for banks and credit unions, or the practice of redlining which denies loans to those living in Black neighborhoods, it’s something that has dramatically shaped communities of color. Today, people of color pay significantly more for banking services than do white individuals, and since the housing crisis in 2008, those with less-than-perfect credit have been turned down for loans at much higher rates, and this disproportionately affects Black and Latinx borrowers. Ta-Nehisi Coates, in his case for reparations, cites housing discrimination specifically as the biggest reason that Black, middle-class families have been unable to build wealth, as most American families have only been able to retain their wealth through housing equity and black families have, on the whole, been denied this opportunity by banks.

For this reason, black-owned banking institutions have been vital in getting capital to black. Citizens Trust Bank is one of these institutions, opened in Atlanta in 1921 by five black businessmen who wanted to make home ownership possible for Black citizens in the city. Since then, they’ve been promoting financial literacy and economic growth in the communities they work in.

Today, they have eight branches in total, six being in Georgia and the other two in Alabama. The bank’s primary focus is on housing lending, as it makes up 30% of their portfolio, and almost 100% of these loans go to low-and-moderate-income individuals. All their branches are in low-and-moderate income neighborhoods, and they do a significant if not monumental amount of small-business lending as well. Having achieved a satisfactory CRA rating in 2016 and having a positive return on assets makes it clear they operate efficiently. However, they do not meet our benchmarks for net-loans-to-deposits; only two-thirds of their assets are loaned out in their community, and we would encourage them to increase this amount.

They have online banking options and no eligibility requirements for joining, so it is possible for those outside of these cities to invest in this bank. We would recommend this bank to anyone looking to invest in Black neighborhoods and housing in two historically Black cities in the South. Learn more at their website here.


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