Treasurer Diossa and Washington Trust Chairman and CEO Handy Announce Actions to Advance Housing Opportunities and Financial Equity in Rhode Island

Published on Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Providence, RIToday, Rhode Island General Treasurer James A. Diossa and Edward O. “Ned” Handy III, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Washington Trust Company ("Washington Trust" or "the Bank”), announced actions to help advance housing opportunities and financial equity in majority minority areas and throughout the state of Rhode Island.

“We continue to make progress in discussions with Washington Trust to advance housing opportunities and financial equity in every community throughout Rhode Island,” said General Treasurer Diossa. “I am in communication with Washington Trust’s Chairman and CEO to discuss the Bank’s recent settlement with the Department of Justice and to establish proactive actions to better serve all Rhode Islanders. We have had meaningful and constructive conversations about the important role the State and local banks play in helping Rhode Islanders, especially communities of color, achieve financial success and home ownership. At the same time, we emphasized the need for more effective engagement, recommended ways in which the Bank could expand their lending and outreach programs into underserved communities, and encouraged a willingness to create new programs.”

“We value Treasurer Diossa’s constructive cooperation and his commitment to expanding financial services and housing programs in underserved communities,” said Washington Trust Chairman and CEO Handy. “Washington Trust remains committed to ensuring everyone in all Rhode Island communities has equal access to all our financial products and services. We look forward to our Olneyville branch opening in the next few months and are actively researching locations for another branch in other underserved communities. We will continue to partner with organizations like the Treasurer’s office that are making a difference, especially those committed to advancing financial literacy and economic empowerment, supporting access to safe and affordable housing, and providing basic needs and family services. We appreciate the input provided by the Treasurer and look forward to continued communication and collaboration.”

The Treasurer’s Office and the Bank agreed to several proactive actions to achieve their mutual goals.

  • The Bank will establish a diverse and inclusive community advisory board that will include a representative of the Office of the General Treasurer and will meet at least quarterly.


  • The Bank will further expand its current paid advertisements on media outlets in underserved communities and communities of color.


  • The Bank will continue and expand its sponsorship of community and cultural events in Rhode Island’s communities of color, including but not limited to community celebrations, festivals, and any other type of organizational events that reach communities of color in Rhode Island.


  • The Bank commits to diversifying its Board of Directors and Leadership Team with the goal of reflecting the state’s general population.


  • The Bank will work with the Rhode Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and continue to support the Rhode Island Black Business Association and the National Association of Hispanic Realtors, Rhode Island Chapter, as well as other community-based direct-service organizations, community development corporations, and any other organizations that provide the residents of diverse community census tracts in the Rhode Island lending area with services related to credit, financial education, homeownership, and foreclosure prevention.


  • The Office of the General Treasurer and the Bank will work jointly to expand the Bank’s financial literacy program in additional urban school districts in Rhode Island.


  • The Bank will share its Community Credit Needs Assessment with the Office of the General Treasurer and receive recommendations to benefit underserved areas of the state.


  • The Office of the General Treasurer and the Bank will work together to expand the use and awareness of all the Bank’s homeownership programs, which include grants, coordination to obtain other grant funds available, and home improvement programs to help current homeowners improve and update their homes. This will include evaluating opportunities such as providing downpayment assistant grants and greater flexibility in consideration of credit score requirements in communities of color.


  • Treasurer Diossa and Washington Trust’s Chairman and CEO Handy will meet quarterly to review progress and discuss any adjustments in the strategy to achieve increased community engagement.


  • Washington Trust will partner with the Office of the General Treasurer in supporting the state’s CollegeBound Saver 529 Plan.