For Immediate Release
February 8, 2024
PUBLIC BANK NYC COALITION RENEWS CALLS FOR PUBLIC BANK AS CITY COUNCIL MEMBER KEITH POWERS REINTRODUCES THE PEOPLE’S BANK ACT
The Package of Bills Would Foster Greater Transparency Regarding City Finances and Set the Stage for a Municipal Public Bank that Will Invest in Black and Brown Neighborhoods
The People’s Bank Act, a package of bills that would lay the foundation for a public bank in New York City, was officially reintroduced today for the 2024-2025 New York City Council legislative session. A public bank will enable the city to leverage its immense financial resources towards advancing racial justice and neighborhood equity. Public banks around the world, including the century-old Bank of North Dakota, have a strong track record of making equitable investments, providing high-quality financial services to underserved neighborhoods, and building community wealth.
Last year, the City of New York collected more than $100 billion in revenue from taxes and other sources to fund public services. Currently, this money is deposited with large commercial banks that fail to equitably serve all New Yorkers and that provide trillions of dollars in financing to harmful industries like fossil fuel extraction. A public bank would allow the city to instead hold and leverage its deposits toward investments in permanently affordable housing, small and worker-owned businesses, community-owned clean energy, and other local needs.
The package of bills includes:
- Introduction 61, establishing a task force to immediately get to work on preparing a business plan and other charter requirements for a municipal public bank.
- Introduction 65, requiring the Director of Management and Budget to issue a public report each quarter on the City’s use of non-depository financial institutions. Such reports would detail the fees and returns for a wide variety of financial services but would exclude pension investments.
- Introduction 66, requiring the Commissioner of Finance to issue quarterly summaries of the City’s accounts with depository financial institutions, including account balances and fees charged. This data has historically been made available to the public only through Freedom of Information Law requests.
- Resolution 20, calling on the New York State Legislature to pass, and the Governor to sign, the New York Public Banking Act (S1754/A3352), which would create a statewide regulatory framework for local public banking and make it easier for New York City and other local governments to establish public banks.
Combined, these bills will dramatically increase transparency on how New York City handles its funds and build a foundation to set up what would be the largest public bank in the country.
“I am proud to sponsor a slate of bills that will create the foundation for a New York City public bank,” said City Council Member Keith Powers. “A public bank will allow us to use public dollars for the public good, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to finally get the People’s Bank Act passed.”
“Instead of depositing billions of dollars of our public money in banks that redline NYC neighborhoods and finance destructive fossil fuels and predatory landlords, we need a public bank,” said Tousif Ahsan of New Economy Project, which coordinates the Public Bank NYC coalition. “With the People’s Bank Act, we can lay the foundation for a municipal bank that will invest in climate solutions, permanently affordable housing, and other urgent needs in Black and brown communities. We urge the City Council to stand with working communities and pass the bills immediately.”
“Public banking will provide access to capital for underserved and overlooked communities, and we need it to help drive an equitable future for all New Yorkers,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “A public bank will be a huge asset to New York’s community development efforts, and will help small businesses, first-time homeowners, the underbanked and our local credit unions better utilize public dollars for the public good. It’s time to pass the People’s Bank Act and create a better New York for all.”
“Minorities have historically been barred from resources provided by large financial institutions, stunting their upward mobility and damaging public trust. We are proud to reintroduce a package of legislation meant to bring equity into finances, serve the true needs of our communities, and reinvest in the underserved while providing transparency and increased co-governance in the investments made by the City of New York,” said Council Member Carmen De La Rosa.
“A Public Bank in New York City would ensure our tax dollars are putting money to work for the public good. A Public Bank would facilitate investment in our communities to create deeply affordable housing, renewable energy projects, good jobs, and so much more,” said Council Member Lincoln Restler.
“Investing in our local communities through the establishment of a public bank isn’t just good sense; it’s common sense. It’s about reclaiming our financial autonomy and ensuring that our resources serve the people, not the profit margins of distant corporations. The People’s Bank Act represents a vital step towards empowering New Yorkers and building a future where economic vitality is synonymous with community well-being,” said Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez.
“The big banks actively harm New Yorkers of color through redlining and predatory lending and destabilize entire neighborhoods by financing speculative real estate and climate-destroying fossil fuels,” said Alicé Nascimento, Director of Policy and Research at New York Communities for Change. “A NYC public bank would put wealth and power back in the hands of working class communities and cut pollution by investing in permanently affordable green social housing. The City Council must swiftly pass the People’s Bank Act legislative package.”
“A public bank is a necessary alternative to the predatory lending we see all over our city. Behind almost every bad-acting landlord is a bank that is, at best, turning a blind eye to how profits are being made,” said Jodie Leidecker of Cooper Square Committee. “Tenants are sick of being displaced, harassed, and exposed to dangerous, dirty conditions while banks fatten their bottom lines. Let’s put the public good first with a public bank!”
“The big banks continue to be a blight on immigrant communities and society as a whole. When they aren’t financing the fossil fuel industry or gun manufacturers, they are discriminating against Black homeowners or completely refusing to allow our immigrant neighbors to open up accounts using their IDNYC cards for identification,” said Liza Schwartzwald, Director of Economic Justice and Family Empowerment at the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC). “We must establish a public bank in NYC to reinvest the city’s funds in an ethical manner and ensure that immigrant New Yorkers, along with other redlined communities, have a responsive and responsible financial institution serving their interests.”
“It is unconscionable that our tax dollars are deposited in Wall Street banks that invest vast sums in fossil fuel companies, exacerbating the climate crisis and harming frontline communities,” said Kyle Giller, staff attorney at NYPIRG. “With a public bank, we can divest from Wall Street and put our public dollars to work building a green economy. Working with community-based organizations and local lenders, like community development financial institutions, a public bank could finance solar cooperatives, sustainable building renovations, equitable electrification, and other needed climate solutions.”
“Our credit union strongly supports the People’s Bank Act legislative package,” said Linda Levy of the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union. “A NYC public bank would help increase the capacity of credit unions like ours to serve our members and communities, and guarantee that public money is used for the public good.”