Yellen says community banking investments boost lending to Black, Latino firms sharply

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen addresses a news conference during a G20 meeting in Gandhinagar

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Wednesday that $8.5 billion in COVID-era investments in community development financial institutions and minority-owned banking firms will boost lending to Black and Latino communities by nearly $140 billion over a decade.

Yellen said in prepared remarks to the Treasury's Freedman's Bank Forum that early reporting from the investment program indicates that one-third of total originations by recipient lenders were "deep impact" loans made to the hardest-to-serve borrowers.

"This is just the start," Yellen said of the Emergency Capital Investment Program (ECIP). "Over the next decade, we expect that ECIP will result in nearly $80 billion in increased lending in Black communities and nearly $58 billion in Latino communities."

The ECIP funding was authorized as part of a COVID-19 aid package approved by Congress in December 2020 and signed into law by then-President Donald Trump just before he left office. The program was implemented by the Biden administration.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Treasury announced a new goal to attract $3 billion in deposits to community development financial institutions and minority-owned banking institutions to help meet these lending targets, up from a $1 billion target for deposits reached in June.

(Reporting by David Lawder; editing by Jonathan Oatis)