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Finding a Home for the CFPB

Location, location, location.

That’s the real estate mantra, and the new consumer bureau is following the professional’s lead. We are getting a permanent home, and it’s all about location. Sometime next year, we will move right across the street from the White House complex to 1700 G Street, Northwest, Washington D.C.

The White House is one of the most frequent destinations for tourists who come to Washington – if only just to walk by and to get a picture taken. Our vision is a building nearby that is the clearly identifiable home of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We want Americans to see where we work, to know that this is a place where financial cops are trained, and to be reminded that we are always looking out. We want this agency to have a very tangible presence for anyone who visits Washington.

In fact, we want more. We want the building to have as much public space as possible. We’re hoping that we can open up parts of the lobby and the adjacent patio for families and service groups, for foreign visitors and local school kids, for anyone who comes to town. This agency belongs to the American public, and we want the American public to be welcome.

If we get this right, we hope there will be space for displays, perhaps featuring financial education materials and tools to help consumers choose the mortgages, credit cards, and other financial products and services are best for them. But whatever we can get into the lobby, we want people to know that they own this building and that the people who work there are working for them.

The building is pretty dated, and it needs considerable renovation to update it to current energy and environmental standards. The outside spaces and the lobby need repair, and the office spaces need to be realigned so that we can accommodate more people. In other words, there’s a lot of work to be done. But that seems fitting for a new agency that is trying to make the consumer financial markets work for everyone. Making change starts with a vision.

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