Last May, U.S. Bank launched Access Home in an effort to increase Black homeownership and representation in key markets through a $3 million investment over three years, focused on the Black community first where the disparities are the largest. 

Greg Cunningham, chief diversity officer at U.S. Bank, and Lenny McNeill, head of strategic markets and affordable lending at U.S. Bank, with the newly hired mortgage loan originators that will help bring U.S. Bank Access Home to life. (Courtesy Photo)

 Today, Access Home has led to $1.5 million in funding to 18 community partners, the hiring of a dozen new-to-the industry Black mortgage loan officers and the launch of a trainee program for residential appraisers. Next up, is expanding the initiative’s geographic reach to California.  

 “We focused our initial efforts on five markets where disparities are the largest, with a goal of new and different markets as we make progress,” said Lenny McNeill, who leads strategic markets and affordable lending for U.S. Bank and resides in Los Angles. “The next phase in terms of expansion will be bringing this program to California to create a long-lasting impact for black homeownership and representation. We also want to expand our reach to the Hispanic community.” 

 Having worked in mortgage and home lending for more than 30 years, McNeill recalls how a really bad day at work sprouted the idea for how to roll-out a program like Access Home, before it even existed. 

 “It was the day Black homeownership rates had gone down,” McNeill said. “I just thought, how is this possible?” 

 Around the time when Access Home was being developed, data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis showed the rate of Black homeownership was 30% lower than that of white Americans.  

 McNeill channeled his frustration and the disheartening data to concept programs that could be piloted in markets with the lowest African-American homeownership rates. They eventually became part of Access Home, a key component of U.S. Bank Access Commitment™, the company’s long-term approach to building wealth and redefining how it serves diverse customers and create more opportunities for employees.  

 “There aren’t many things to influence long-term generational wealth but the one that is constant is homeownership,” McNeill said. “We are recognizing and rewarding the individuals who are already doing the work to close this gap, because we can’t do this without them.” 

 When Access Home arrives in California, it will join a number of U.S. Bank investments made in the greater Los Angeles area within the last year, such as support for Destination Crenshaw. The public/private partnership will create a vibrant corridor of Black culture, mirroring the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Koreatown, Chinatown and Olvera Street, via $30 million in new market tax credit allocations from U.S. Bank Impact Finance.  

 In addition, the company has been celebrated recently within the Los Angeles community as an outstanding corporate partner, earning the 2023 Corporate Partner Award from the Los Angeles Urban League and the 2023 Banking and Financial Corporation of the Year from the Los Angeles Black Chamber of Commerce.