Earlier this week the Occupy Seattle protesters took over Broadway on Capitol Hill (few blocks from Team Diva’s office) to protest the CEO of Chase Bank visit to Seattle. The Occupy Seattle protesters are demonstrating their unhappiness with the monstrous banking corporation and their lack of reinvestment in our local economy. Even here in Seattle, the 99% is making their voices heard, tired of unethical corporate practices, economic volatility, and even the continued loss of jobs.Â The Diva Team is doing its best for the local economy, but things are getting stark around here and we are not just talking only about the weather.
Knowing the obstacles that are out there many of us are asking “What can I do right now?” When walking into the Starbucks across the street earlier today, Diva Chavi spotted a inconspicuous-looking pamphlet entitled â€œVisibly Indivisible: This Country Needs Jobs.â€Â In this pamphlet, Starbucks Foundation, in partnership with the Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), outlined their plan for creating and sustaining jobs in the U.S. The program is simply called “Create Jobs for USA”. Â To make things short and sweet, everyone is encouraged to donate at least $5 to the organization, all of which is used to provide micro-lending to small businesses and young upstarts throughout the country. Â As Team Diva is a small business and community development supporter in general, we love that this simple idea translates into the following equation: one donation x the whole community = real jobs!
With the focus put on providing funding for small businesses, the Starbucks plan utilizes the OFN for its wide access to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), more commonly known as community banks.Â We love community banks.Â Unlike the big banks, which focus on the bottom line, community banks more often are in tune with the local people and the local economy.
Locally, the real estate industry needs to start asking the question of what exactly are we doing to help with the economic issues that are troubling the nation, and the city of Seattle, as a whole.Â Are we referring our clients to those same big banks that are not, in turn, supporting our local economy and local job development? Â More importantly are we helping out corporations that are not challenging themselves to find solutions to funding well-qualified real estate home buyers. Big banks are not doing enough to support local economies, even denying funding to those people that can easily qualify for it, whether that person be a small business entrepreneur or a first-time homeowner.Â For this reason, we love the Starbucks plan – â€œCreate Jobs for USA.â€
In our experience, it is the smaller community banks that have made the dream of owning a home come true for our Diva Dwellers. Recently we closed a small studio on Capitol Hill. The square footage of the studio was below the approved mark by the big banks and thereby un-lendable. Anyone working or living on Capitol Hill knows that studios are a major part of the unique make-up of a dense urban core. A local community bank saw the opportunity and saved the day for our Diva Dwellers.
Another example is that we currently have a Diva Dweller who is finishing up his Medical Residency at the UW. Technically ,he does not qualify for a first time home buyer loan because his student debt ratio is too high per his current income. He currently is still in school and not paying on his loans until he finishes up his residency. His income obviously will increase overtime making him the perfect buyer in this market. What did the big banks say? “Sorry!” What did a local community bank say – “We can do it.” Sterling Savings Bank is now looking into a program specifically for medical residency professionals. That’s community banking!
Given our experiences and commitment to expanding our local economy, we urge all of our Diva Dwellers and Divotees to help out in any manner that they can. Â Here’s how:
Step #1: Donate to the Starbuck and Opportunity Finance Network’s program Create Jobs for USA
Step #2: Switch your bank accounts from the big banks to small community banks or credit unions. November 5th is Bank Transfer Day. Do it!
Step #3: If you can hire someone, do it…be a Diva: Hire an entourage!
Its time that we move on and do what’s right for our local community. Hope you join us!