As reported in the Portland Business Journal and at oregonlive.com, federal regulators overseeing the banking industry have laid down requirements for Albina Community Bank to improve its loan portfolio and increase its capital reserves. Albina Bank, headquarted at 2002 NE MLK and with five offices in the city, lost over eight million dollars last year. The bank’s website describes Albina’s mission this way:
We are one of just approximately 61 commercial banks across the country certified as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) by the U.S. Treasury, and we’re here to help inspire you and our local neighborhoods. Deposits at Albina are reinvested in our local Portland neighborhoods inspiring jobs, wealth and success.
FoxBusiness.com quotes Cheryl Cebula, President & Chief Operating Officer of Albina Bank, as saying that “[w]e continue our commitment to supporting our customers in the Portland communities, and are seeing significant growth in new business and new customer relationships. Portland is our home and we have a unique and meaningful social mission to fulfill here. Our customers are responding to our local banking approach and are bringing deposits to us. In fact, our core deposit base has grown substantially from a year ago.”
Founded in 1995, Albina Community Bank absorbed American State Bank, formerly the Freedom Bank of Finance, about a decade ago. The Freedom Bank of Finance opened in 1969 by Venerable F. Booker, who saw a need for a community lender in North/Northeast Portland. Freedom Bank of Finance/American State Bank spent thirty years on Union Avenue/MLK Boulevard until its absorption by Albina Bank, all but a few months at 2737 NE MLK (CrossFit MLK now occupies the building).
Karen Gibson, Portland State professor of urban studies and planning, notes in her fascinating article “Bleeding Albina: A History of Community Disinvestment, 1940-2000” that Booker opened the Freedom Bank of Finance to address the severe reluctance of banks to lend to Albina residents so that they might buy a home, or make home improvements. Along the way, Booker fought to keep the federal government from discriminating against black-owned banks in its distribution of deposits.
Gibson’s article can be read here; I highly recommend it as a primer to understanding how Albina was permitted & encouraged to deteriorate, and what present-day gentrification looks like in Albina. I found the link to her article on Will Bennett’s Golden West Project website, a blog devoted to African-American historical concerns in Portland.