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Community Groups, Electeds Award NYC’s “Worst Banks of 2022”
Banks Dis-honored for Redlining, Profiteering During the Pandemic, and Financing Fossil Fuels and Displacement
Coalition calls on City to divest from Wall Street and establish a municipal public bank
New York, NY – City and State officials, including NYC Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams, NYS Senator Jabari Brisport, and NYS Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, joined community, labor, and cooperative organizations to present “awards” to New York City’s “Worst Banks of 2022.”
Returning for the first time since the pandemic started, the “Worst 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:
- JPMorgan Chase: “Worst Climate Destroyer”
- Capital One & Signature Bank: “Worst Funder of Bad Landlords”
- Wells Fargo: “Worst Redliner of Communities of Color”
- Citibank & JPMorgan Chase: “Worst Pandemic Profiteer”
- Bank of America: “Lifetime Aggrievement Award”
New York City currently “designates” 28 banks as eligible to hold the City’s deposits. Advocates underscored that many of these banks continue to redline NYC neighborhoods of color; finance landlords that evict large numbers of NYC tenants; bankroll destructive fossil fuel extraction; siphoned billions of dollars in fees from struggling New Yorkers during the pandemic; and more.
Public Bank NYC, a coalition of more than 50 community and labor groups, 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 and worker-owned businesses, community-controlled renewable energy, fair banking services, and other community needs not met by mainstream financial institutions.
Awardees were selected by Public Bank NYC, based on analysis of publicly-available data, government enforcement actions, and other research.
“Since the last Worst Banks Awards in 2019, the big banks have continued to extract massive wealth from our communities and harm the planet – and it’s only gotten worse. Yet, these banks continue to hold billions of dollars in our public deposits.” said Tousif Ahsan of New Economy Project. “What has changed is the enormous growth, across New York, in the movement for public banking. Now we need Albany and City Hall to take action and ensure that our public dollars work for the public good.”
“Just over ten years ago and just under ten blocks from City Hall, I was the first elected official to endorse Occupy Wall Street because I knew that it was up to the people to take a stand against big, predatory banks.” said NYC Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams. “Now, as we name the worst banks in our city, we have an opportunity, through the New York Public Banking Act, to take the power from these mega-profit institutions and restore it to the people. A public bank is a path to a more just economy, and more justice in our investments in the environment, housing, local business, and more — and I urge the state to pass this landmark legislation.”
“The mission of a public bank is to serve the public interest,” said NYS Senate Banks Committee Chair James Sanders Jr. “With a public bank, we can ensure that taxpayers’ money will be used more cost effectively in financing public infrastructure projects, equitable economic development and job creation, small businesses, expanding homeownership, and other public priorities. It is time for New York to establish a public bank.”
“Every year, billions of public dollars flow into private big banks that finance the fossil fuel industry and redline communities. We should take bold action to advance economic justice by investing public dollars in the public good,” said NYS Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou. “By enforcing laws like the Community Reinvestment Act and by creating and investing in a public bank, we can make sure that taxpayer money is working to reduce inequality and develop our communities instead of enriching private entities.”
“The worst thing about the ‘worst banks’ is that they’re using our taxpayer dollars to wreck the climate, evict tenants, displace communities and profiteer off the pandemic,” said NYS Assemblymember Emily Gallagher. “Public money should serve the public good, not shareholder profits. It’s time to create a public bank in New York and get our money out of these dishonorable institutions.”
“As a survivor of Hurricane Sandy, I know the impact of climate change first hand. Every time it rains, my daughter wonders if our home will once again be destroyed. My family in Puerto Rico, who are survivors of Hurricane Maria and most recently, Hurricane Fiona, share my and my daughter’s trauma. The truth is that those who are suffering on the frontlines of climate change are people like me— from low-income communities of color. We don’t have time to waste,” said Rachel Rivera, a member of New York Communities for Change. “As long as New York City continues to put our money into banks that fuel climate chaos like JPMorgan and Citibank, communities like mine will continue to suffer. It’s time for New York to establish a public bank that works for us and the planet, not for Wall Street.”
“Why should our city continue to do business with banks that won’t even open branches in our neighborhoods?” asked Jorge Vasquez of the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union. “Big banks have systematically failed to serve communities of color across the city. A public bank would put our public money to work by partnering with responsible lenders like us, which have always been there for New Yorkers, to expand financial services in communities that need it the most.”
“Banks that continue to lend money to bad-acting landlords shouldn’t have access to our public dollars to further push out tenants and destabilize housing in New York,” said Georgina Christ of Cooper Square Committee. A public bank would provide a positive alternative to help keep New York affordable for everyone.”
To learn more about Public Bank NYC, please visit publicbanknyc.org.