JPMorgan Chase opening 70 banks in DC area, expected to create 700 jobs

- JPMorgan Chase and city officials have announced the banking powerhouse will open 70 branches in the greater D.C. area, a move that is expected to bring 700 jobs to the region.

The company said it was committing $4 billion over five years for regional home and small business lending while also increasing lending for affordable housing. The announcement, which has been applauded by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, is part of JPMorgan Chase's plan to open 400 new branches and hire as many as 3,000 employees in new markets across the country.

Entry-level jobs in the D.C. area will start at $16.50 per hour and come with the company’s benefits package, according to JPMorgan Chase.

While officials cheer for the expected economic impact, questions have been raised about the company's lending practices. The announcement comes on the heels of a Reveal investigation, conducted by the Center for Investigative Reporting, which stated that Chase Bank rarely lent to people of color in the District. The Reveal investigation, released in March, stated Chase Bank didn't have to abide by the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 because it technically didn't have a branch in the district.

A passage from the investigation reads:

"Chase is one of the biggest lenders in the Washington area. Yet African Americans received just 23 of the 1,119 conventional home purchase loans Chase made in the metro area in 2015 and 2016, according to government lending data reviewed by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. Latino borrowers received 35 loans. An analysis of tens of millions of mortgage records by Reveal found 61 metro areas where people of color were significantly more likely to be denied a conventional home purchase loan than whites, even when they made the same amount of money, sought the same loan size or tried to buy in the same neighborhood. The Washington area was the only one where Reveal’s analysis found statistically significant disparities for all four ethnic groups studied: African Americans, Asians, Latinos and Native Americans. Chase had one of the highest denial rates for African Americans and Latinos among major lenders in Washington. The bank turned away 26 percent of African Americans and 18 percent of Latinos who sought conventional home purchase loans in 2015 and 2016. It denied 7 percent of applications from white homebuyers."

According to Reveal, Chase Bank declined an interview for their investigation but a company spokeswoman told them the bank was planning on “expanding our footprint to new markets” to “give us more access to serve new communities.” The spokeswoman told Reveal that Chase Bank would comply with the Community Reinvestment Act once its branches were open.

You can read the full Reveal investigation here.

In early 2017, JPMorgan Chase reached a $55 million settlement after a federal lawsuit alleged the bank worked with mortgage brokers to charge minority borrowers $1,000 more than white customers.

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