About the Community Equity Agenda
The NYS Community Equity Agenda calls for policies and actions that transform, rather than merely reform, our fundamentally unjust social, political and economic systems. It puts racial and economic justice front and center and addresses long-standing inequities that play out at neighborhood and regional levels. It requires decision-making led by people and communities typically left out of, and harmed by, status quo economic development.
Tackling our most existential crises – from climate devastation to persistent wealth inequality – requires transformational change. In the face of federal attacks on low-income people, immigrants, women, and people of color, the need for bold, local action has never been greater.
The Agenda is driven by a broad-based coalition of community, labor, civil rights, and legal services groups, cooperative organizations, and community development financial institutions (see list below). It sets forth an affirmative, solutions-oriented platform, focusing on concrete legislative and regulatory changes that New York can and should make right now to:
- Build community wealth. To jumpstart economic growth in New York’s low-income communities and communities of color, New York should support cooperatively-structured and community-led development. We must strengthen community-based financial institutions, including mission-driven financial co-ops that serve historically-redlined communities. The state must ensure a living wage and a collective voice on the job for all New Yorkers. To address the housing crisis, New York should foster the growth of community land trusts (CLTs) and non-speculative housing models that ensure long-term and deep affordability.
- Divest and invest. Public money should be used for the public good, not for private gain. New York should divest public deposits from banks that actively harm New Yorkers and destabilize neighborhoods, and that finance fossil fuels and other destructive industries. Instead of placing billions of public dollars on deposit with Wall Street banks, New York should establish state and municipal public banks that invest in low-income communities and communities of color. Grassroots and nonprofit initiatives that advance equitable economic development – including worker, food, and financial co-ops, CLTs, community-controlled renewable energy initiatives, and much more – should be prioritized over massive subsidies and tax breaks to large corporations.
- End wealth extraction. We must end the systematic extraction of wealth from New York communities. New York State has long banned payday lending through its strong usury laws. For years, however, the payday lending industry and other financial predators have sought to break into New York’s lucrative market, trying to blast open the state’s usury laws. Instead of opening floodgates to high-cost, predatory loans, we should stand firmly behind our strong usury laws and strengthen other consumer protection laws, as needed. An immediate first step is to update New York’s woefully antiquated unfair and deceptive acts and practices law.
2019/2020 Policy Priorities:
1. Build community wealth by funding the NYS Community Development Financial Institutions Fund. The Governor and NYS Legislature should deliver on funding for the NYS Community Development Financial Institutions Fund in the state budget, and enact policies to dramatically expand the reach of community development credit unions (CDCUs).
2. Promote economic democracy by establishing a New York worker-ownership center. To help create jobs with dignity statewide, New York should establish a worker-ownership center, as a first step towards workplace democracy. The center should provide technical assistance and other needed support to worker co-ops and businesses converting to worker ownership.
3. Keep predatory lending out of New York and prevent further siphoning of wealth from New Yorkers and communities of color. The Governor and NYS legislators must reject any attempt – whether from check cashers, online “fintech” lenders, or other financial services entities – to weaken, undermine, or exempt companies from our vital anti-predatory lending laws. New York is one of 16 states that bans predatory payday lending.
Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association
Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union
CAMBA Legal Services
Center for NYC Neighborhoods
Consumer Reports Advocacy
Cooperative Federal Credit Union
Genesee Co-op Federal Credit Union
Latino Justice PRLDEF
The Legal Aid Society
Legal Services Staff Association, LSSA 2320, UAW/NOLSW 2320
Long Island Housing Services
Long Island Progressive Coalition
Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union
Mobilization for Justice
New Economy Project
NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives
New York Working Families
New Yorkers for Responsible Lending
Pan-African Community Development Initiative
The Black Institute
US Federation of Worker Cooperatives
Western New York Law Center
*list in formation
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Latest News & Updates
- How Financial Co-ops Are Helping Puerto Rico Rebuild — and Why It Matters for New York
- City Limits: NY Can Reduce Redlining’s Residue by Backing Credit Unions
- Action Alert: Stop Predatory Financial Services Bill, June 19, 2019
- Albany Drops the Ball on Community Development
- Buffalo News: Advocates Urge State Officials to Help Close Gap in Access to Capital
CDFI Profile – Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union
Learn about what makes Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union different from most other financial institutions.
New York State Equity Agenda – Caucus Weekend 2019
Hear from members of the Equity Agenda coalition and elected officials on the need for a new approach to economic development in New York.