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New Yorkers Demad a Public Bank at First-Ever Hearing on

Banks Eligible to Hold Billions in NYC Deposits

Community groups demand that New York City cut ties with banks that redline communities of color and finance destructive fossil fuels and speculative real estate, and establish a public bank.

NEW YORK, NY – Dozens of New Yorkers representing community groups across the city testified today at the first-ever public hearing before the NYC Banking Commission on the designation of banks eligible to hold municipal deposits. A familiar refrain at the hearing was the call for a public bank to hold city funds and reinvest in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color that the big banks routinely fail to serve.

Prior to the hearing, members of Public Bank NYC, a citywide coalition of more than 50 community and labor groups and community development financial institutions, held a press conference calling on the Banking Commission to act boldly to ensure that public money works for the public good. 

“Instead of placing our public money on deposit with banks that redline our communities and finance destructive fossil fuels and predatory landlords, we need a public bank,” said Tousif Ahsan of New Economy Project, a citywide economic justice organization that coordinates the Public Bank NYC coalition. “A public bank would invest in climate solutions, permanently affordable housing, and other urgent needs in Black and brown communities.”

Public Bank NYC has long called on the City to democratize its bank designation process, as a key first step to establishing a municipal bank. Last summer, Public Bank NYC demanded that the City cut ties with Wells Fargo in response to reports that the bank discriminated against Black homeowners seeking to refinance mortgage loans. Two weeks later, Mayor Adams and Comptroller Lander did just that.

In February, the Commission announced new measures to hold the City’s designated banks “more accountable to the public.” Today’s hearing, however, offered much of the same, according to coalition members in attendance. The City approved all 28 banks that applied to be designated to hold city deposits, including Wells Fargo. Only the Comptroller’s office voted to reject the scandal-ridden bank.

In its testimony, New Economy Project said, “[B]ig banks invariably prioritize profit maximization over the interests of New Yorkers and NYC neighborhoods. Ultimately, we believe the best way to ensure that public money is reinvested locally in ways that advance the public interest is for the City to establish a public bank."

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