HOUSING AND COMMUNITY GROUPS RALLY AT NYC BANKING COMMISSION, CALL ON NYC TO DIVEST FROM BANKS FUELING EVICTIONS, AND ESTABLISH A MUNICIPAL PUBLIC BANK
Public Bank NYC coalition responds to new research, underscoring how banks that hold City funds provide financing to landlords on “Worst Evictors” list.
NEW YORK, NY – Housing and community groups rallied today at a meeting of the NYC Banking Commission, calling on New York City to divest public money from banks that provide financing to landlords responsible for evicting large numbers of NYC tenants.
The rally, organized by the Public Bank NYC coalition, comes on the heels of new research by the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition and partners, documenting the “Worst Evictors” in neighborhoods where eviction defense is a right, and the banks that support them. Six of the City’s “designated” banks – those the City has authorized to hold municipal deposits – financed 19 out of the 23 landlords named in the report. The City had more than $800 million in public funds on deposit at these six banks, as of September 2018.
“Chhaya works with tenants across Queens who are facing harassment and threats of displacement from some of the most unscrupulous landlords in the city. We know that these landlords are able to operate because of the banks that lend to them and invest in their business model of displacement,” said Gurpreet Singh, a Financial Counselor with Chhaya CDC, a member organization of the Public Bank NYC Coalition. “If banks are not willing to hear the concerns of the tenants they are displacing and work to revise their lending criteria to include a thorough investigation of a landlord's track record of harassment, then the City should not place its money in those banks.”
Activists have long documented how banks underwrite loans to landlords based on projected rent rolls that landlords can obtain only by taking apartments out of rent regulation and hiking rents.
“Banks are as predatory as the unscrupulous landlords they support and should be held accountable and responsible for their predatory practices,” said Carmen Vega-Rivera, CASA Leader and Right to Counsel NYC Coalition Member. “Banks exacerbate displacement of tenants and small local businesses. They cannot turn a blind eye to the problem, since they are part of the problem.”
“By financing abusive landlords, banks are directly implicated in tenant harassment and evictions,” said Andy Morrison, Campaigns Director with New Economy Project. “Under no circumstances should hundreds of millions of dollars in public money be on deposit with these banks. It’s clear that the City needs a public option, and that is a municipal public bank.”
*Total number of landlords, out of 23 named in “Worst Evictors” list, that are financed by above designated banks (Right to Counsel NYC research)
**As of September 20, 2018, according to Dept. of Finance response to Public Bank NYC FOIL request