Vice President Kamala Harris (Photo Courtesy of The White House)

ATLANTA – The Biden administration has taken important steps to help Black Americans achieve home ownership and start small businesses, Vice President Kamala Harris said Friday.

But more needs to be done to make them aware of those opportunities, Harris said during a forum at the 38th annual conference of the mentoring organization 100 Black Men of America in Atlanta.

“This is a room full of people who can help get the word out on what is available,” she said.

Harris’ stop in Atlanta was the fifth in her nationwide Economic Opportunity Tour touting the Biden administration’s work to create jobs, make housing more affordable, and erase student loans and medical debt.

She and Biden have been actively courting Black voters, a demographic Democrats often have taken for granted, at a time the president’s polling numbers are slipping particularly among Black men and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is aggressively seeking Black support. In a case in point, Biden served as the keynote speaker during last month’s graduation ceremonies at Morehouse College.

Harris said Black Americans have a lot to overcome if they are to gain equal access to business opportunities enjoyed by whites. She said only 2% of venture capital investment goes to Black-owned businesses, while Blacks are three times less likely to apply for loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, which she attributed to their fear of being disappointed when they’re rejected.

Harris said the solution likes in stepping up federal investment in community banks. She pointed to $12 billion Congress appropriated to community banks for small business startup loans while she was a member of the U.S. Senate.

“Putting the money into community banks is about putting it into a place where people can walk in with a sense of dignity that is respected and actually be able to have access to capital,” she said.

On the housing front, Harris said the difficulty Black Americans encounter obtaining loans to finance down payments goes back to the post-World War II era, when Black men returning from overseas were discriminated against when they tried to take out housing loans through the GI Bill.

She said the Biden administration is proposing a plan to give Americans who are the first in their family to seek homeownership a $25,000 credit for a down payment and $400 per month to help with mortgage payments.

“Homeownership is probably one of the most effective, efficient, and fastest ways to grow inter-generational wealth,” she said.

Harris also touted the administration’s recent order providing nearly $160 billion in loan forgiveness to nearly 4.6 million student borrowers. The offer will go not only to students who have obtained degrees but to those who haven’t graduated but still owe on their loans, she said.

To help Americans saddled with expensive medical bills, Harris said the Biden administration has proposed a new rule that would eliminate medical debt from Americans’ credit scores.

Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group, released a statement Friday criticizing Harris’ appearance in Atlanta as a “campaign tour highlighting the supposed successes of ‘Bidenomics.’ “

“Despite multiple visits from administration and campaign officials, we have one message for Vice President Harris: the Biden-Harris administration’s reckless spending and ham-fisted regulations are directly responsible for the economic hardships facing Georgians,” said Tony West, the group’s Georgia state director. “We will continue to advocate for sensible policy solutions that foster economic opportunity and growth.”