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Community Groups, Elected Officials Award NYC’s “Worst Banks of 2019”

Banks that Redline Communities, Violate Workers’ Rights, and
Finance Fossil Fuels and Displacement Dis-honored


Members of Public Bank NYC coalition call on the City to divest from Wall Street and establish a municipal public bank


NEW YORK, NY – Local elected officials, including NYC Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams, NYC Council Member Carlos Menchaca, and NYS Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, joined dozens of community groups to give “awards” to New York City’s “Worst Banks of 2019.”

The inaugural "Worst NYC Banks" awards ceremony highlighted how banks that receive billions of dollars in municipal deposits harm New Yorkers, NYC neighborhoods, and the planet.

Golden “Worst NYC Banks” statues were awarded to:

  • TD Bank: “Worst Redliner of NYC Neighborhoods of Color” 

  • Capital One and Signature Bank (co-awardees): “Worst Funder of Bad Landlords” 

  • JPMorgan Chase: “Worst Bankroller of the Climate Crisis”

  • Bank of America: “Worst Violator of Workers' Rights”

  • Wells Fargo: “Lifetime Aggrievement Award”

New York City currently “designates” 30 banks that are eligible to hold the City’s cash. Advocates underscored how many of these banks systematically redline and extract wealth from NYC neighborhoods of color; finance landlords that evict large numbers of NYC tenants; bankroll destructive fossil fuel extraction; and more.

Public Bank NYC members called on the City to cut ties with Wall Street banks that exploit people and harm low-income communities and communities of color, and to establish a public bank. Through public banking, advocates said, the City could invest in deeply affordable housing, small businesses and worker co-ops, community-controlled renewable energy, fair banking services, infrastructure, and other community needs not met by mainstream financial institutions.

Awardees were selected by Public Bank NYC, based on the coalition’s review of existing research and novel data analysis. See sources and methodology below.*

“Wall Street banks prioritize short-term profits for their shareholders and executives, to the detriment of people, communities, and the planet. Under no circumstances should public money be implicated in their destructive business model. The need for a public option – a public bank for the public good – could not be clearer,” said Ali Issa of New Economy Project.

"Corporate banks have been allowed to rob us of the opportunity to protect our communities and families, and build generational wealth. The banks on this list have chosen profits over people. Bankrolling our climate crisis, engaging in labor violations, redlining and funding slumlords shouldn't be standard operating practice - especially when billions of the public's dollars are in play. They think they can get away with this and that they are not beholden to the people – as a watchdog for the public, as the first elected official to endorse and join Occupy Wall Street, I want them to know that we see what they're doing, we'll fight them, and we'll win." said NYC Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams.

"Wall Street banks give out loans to slumlords knowing that the only way for landlords to make good on those loans is if they deregulate apartments through loopholes, evict and displace long-term residents, and triple the rent. New York needs a public bank that doesn't invest in a business model of displacement, but invests directly in the well-being of our communities," said Jamie Tyberg of New York Communities for Change.

“Public money should be used for public programs, not given to private banks for them to invest in fossil fuels, bad landlords, and immigration detention. By creating a public bank option, we can free the people’s money from private greed and use it to bankroll affordable housing, banking infrastructure, and other community investments that will start reversing decades of redlining and wealth theft. It’s time to prioritize people over profits with bold action.” said NYC Council Member Carlos Menchaca

"Our public dollars have promoted harmful business practices for far too long. The big banks recognized today — many of which are headquartered in my district — receive billions of our public dollars. Instead of putting our money in banks that finance the fossil fuel industry and redline communities, we should take bold action to advance economic justice. Not only do we need to enforce existing laws like the Community Reinvestment Act, we also need to build new institutions, like public banks. Public money should work for the public good and we need to fight to ensure that those billions of dollars are working to close racial wealth gaps, and not promoting harmful business practices that extract wealth from communities of color,” said NYS Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou.

“Where our City puts its money is a powerful measure of what we value. Wall Street banks that fuel the climate crisis, finance displacement, and violate workers' rights undermine our City’s commitment to a sustainable, equitable and just future for all of us. A public bank would give us a chance to align the investment of our public dollars with our shared values," said NYC Council Member Brad Lander.

“I applaud the Public Bank NYC coalition for calling out financial institutions that have put New Yorkers (and people across the globe) in harm’s way through investments in destructive industries and companies. It is especially disturbing that the investments have been supported, at least in part, through deposits from local government. Creation of a public bank offers great promise as a way to reinvest in working class and communities of color, and direct public funds towards sustainable projects that benefit the many, not the few,” said NYC Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

"Students in the City are among the most impacted when it comes to Wall St. banks' destructive investments. As young people, they will inherit a world that is being ravaged by fossil fuels. As individuals facing rising college costs, they feel the crunch of rising rents. Wall St. is bankrolling the industries causing the climate crisis and exacerbating housing insecurity. That's why we are here today, calling on the City to create a Public Bank so that we can take back control of our money," said Tousif Ahsan of NYPIRG.

*Sources and Methodology:

  • “Worst Redliner of Communities of Color” based on New Economy Project’s analysis of Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) bank branch data for NYC “designated banks” with at least 50 branches in NYC and U.S. Census neighborhood demographic data. Banks were ranked on the proportion of their branches located in neighborhoods of color (>70% people of color), controlling for neighborhood population and the total number of branches each bank has in NYC. 

  • “Worst Bankroller of the Climate Crisis” based on Rainforest Action Network’s report, Banking on Climate Change

  • “Worst Funder of Bad Landlords” based on the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition’s Worst Evictors List.

  • “Worst Violator of Workers' Rights” based on Good Jobs First and Jobs with Justice Education Fund’s report, Grand Theft Paycheck: the Large Corporations Shortchanging Their Workers’ Paychecks.

  • “Lifetime Aggrievement Award” based on numerous reported scandals

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