Byron Reed, right, with Byron Mobley and Phillip Wilson at the 25th Economic Awards Dinner sponsored by the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce. (GLAAACC photo)
CIT Bank aims to empower communities throughout greater Los Angeles and Byron K. Reed is leading the effort.
As senior vice president and head of Community Development at CIT, Reed brings 35+ years of banking experience and a proven track record of assisting underserved neighborhoods with improving their surroundings. Previously, he served in similar positions at Wells Fargo, Bank of America and JP Morgan.
At CIT, his responsibilities focus on affordable housing, economic development, workforce development, job creation and financial education. In addition to managing the bank’s $5 million dollar grant budget, Reed also directs CIT’s efforts to provide core community services by partnering with non-profits and hosting neighborhood forums to acquaint people with their services and products.
“CIT is more than just a corporate citizen, we are a member of the community as well. We’ve made really great strides in impacting the low-to-moderate income community, primarily our ethnic community, because historically that’s been a disenfranchised community that’s done without because of a lack of resources,” insisted Reed.
“In 2018, we were able to invest $1.4 billion across Southern California. This includes over $93 million in investments and $2 million in grants for affordable housing, which is the most prominent and greatest need in our market,” he said.
Citing actions by CIT earlier this year, Reed said the bank issued its second $400,000 grant to the Los Angeles Housing + Community Investment Department (HCIDLA) to assist eligible first-time home buyers with purchasing single-family homes and condominiums.
Since the first grant in 2018 helped HCIDLA to assist 28 families in buying residences, Reed said, “We renewed the grant because we know that one of the detractors that prevents folks from getting into a house is down payment assistance and closing costs. So, this is resource that will allow these folks to realize that American dream.”
CIT also awarded a second $350,000 grant to Neighborhood Housing Services of Los Angeles (NHS), which will allow the nonprofit to provide affordable lending, financial education and real estate services to 4,500 low and moderate-income residents across Los Angeles County. The first grant CIT gave in 2017 enabled NHS to aid nearly 3,700 homeowners with financial assistance and 259 with affordable loans.
Another example of the bank’s commitment to helping low income families can be found in its Community Investment Loan Program. Developers can apply for construction loans and permanent financing for multifamily affordable housing and community facilities such as health centers, schools and public safety centers.
According to Reed, CIT’s emphasis on affordable housing stems from dialogue with its community partners and information gleaned from the community needs assessments conducted in neighborhoods where the bank operates. The data helps CIT, which is headquartered in Pasadena, to tailor their services to meet the requests of each community, whether it is L.A., Ventura, San Diego or the Inland Empire.
“What I think makes CIT unique is our commitment to survey our customers and the community and it’s one community at a time. How we serve here in Los Angeles is not how we serve in San Diego,” Reed explained.
“Understanding the community and allowing us to back into what that community’s needs are helps us to be unique and different from any other institution. We go from ground zero and talk to the folks that make up our community.”
CIT duplicates that customer service approach in its retail branch network, One West Bank, added Reed. Describing the staff as “the face of the organization in those communities,” Reed noted that One West has earned national industry recognition for the past two years for its outstanding relationships with clients.
To further strengthen community relationships, CIT and One West managers donate their time and talents to nonprofits in the local area. Reed, who is well-known in the African American community for his leadership and volunteerism, serves as board chair of West Angeles Community Development Corporation (CDC) and is active with several organizations including the Valley Economic Development Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles, KIS Foundation, Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce, The Brotherhood Crusade, Christ Our Redeemer CDC and the Los Angeles Police Foundation.
“We truly take serious the role that we have to play in our community. Anyone – whether it’s an elected official or community leader – who has something that they want the bank to consider or something that they are thinking about, I welcome them to reach out to us. Let’s have a dialogue. We are approachable,” said Reed.
“Yes, we are a bank, but we are a bank with a heart that really wants to positively impact our community because if our communities are successful, we are clearly successful,” he stressed.
“We want to leave that kind of long-lasting brand in folk’s mind so when they think of CIT, they think of an organization that cares and has the resources to effect change. We are serious about this and we’re here to stay!”