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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a public bank?


A public bank is a financial institution owned by a public entity—such as a city, county, or state—and accountable to the people. 

Public banks represent an alternative to predatory Wall Street banks and can serve as a powerful tool for local governments to invest in permanently affordable housing, living-wage jobs, renewable energy, community-led development, and more.

Where does NYC currently keep its money?

Each year, the City of New York collects tens of billions of dollars in public money (revenue from taxes and other sources) to fund public services. Currently, most of this money is placed on deposit with private banks, like Chase and Bank of America, which systematically harm New Yorkers and finance fossil fuels, speculative real estate, and other destructive industries. The rest is pooled in investment funds that generate modest returns.

What impact would a public bank have on NYC?

A municipal public bank would allow the City of New York to divest public money from Wall Street and move it to a bank that is accountable to New Yorkers and dedicated to reinvesting in local communities and strengthening our economy. Public Bank NYC is fighting for a bank with a clear mission to advance racial, economic, and environmental justice. With these principles at its core, the public bank would prioritize community-led economic development initiatives that currently lack affordable financing options from mainstream banks, like community land trusts, small and worker-owned businesses, and community-controlled renewable energy. 

Public banking would also change the City’s approach to municipal finance. Currently, when the City needs funding for infrastructure and other public projects, it turns to the costly municipal bond market. With a public bank, the City could self-finance specified projects, reducing interest and fees paid to Wall Street and preserving funding for crucial budget priorities.

Will I be able to open an account with the public bank?

The public bank will not initially provide individual bank accounts to New Yorkers. However, the public bank will partner with community-based credit unions and loan funds to expand access to high-quality, affordable financial services in historically redlined communities. That means supporting more neighborhood branches as well as affordable account, money transfer, and other services.

To whom would a public bank be accountable?

Unlike private banks, which focus on maximizing short-term profits to enrich their shareholders and executives, a public bank would be mission-driven to put people, communities, and the planet first. It would be governed by a board of directors comprised of government officials, specially-trained community leaders representing low-income communities and communities of color, and other expert advisors. The daily operations of the bank would be run by qualified, independent banking professionals charged with carrying out the bank’s mission.

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