Call for Swift Passage of Responsible Banking Act (Intro. 485)
Council members, advocates and community residents gathered on the steps of City Hall today to demand that banks be held accountable, and to call for the passage of the recently introduced Responsible Banking Act (Intro. 485 – Vann, Recchia). The press conference followed a hearing on the legislation in the New York City Council Committees on Community Development and Finance, also held today.
The Responsible Banking Act is important new proposed legislation that will create a ranking system of banks seeking city deposits based on how responsive they are to the needs of New York City’s neighborhoods. By holding banks that store the city’s money more locally accountable, the bill would incentivize these financial institutions to engage in practices that are beneficial to all New Yorkers and strengthen their community development efforts in New York City. An evaluation of how these banks contribute to the needs of the City and its communities would be a transparent and important tool of the city in determining which banks it deposits its funds.
The bill is not only a response to the aftermath of predatory lending and other harmful bank practices that contributed to the national financial crisis, but also to continued disengagement by banks within underserved communities. As the effects of this continue to be felt in our city, it is imperative that New York City take affirmative steps to rebuild and strengthen its partnerships with the banking community. The Responsible Banking Act creates the transparency and oversight necessary to achieve this. The bill would require the Department of Finance, in its role on the NYC Banking Commission, to collect important information related to community development activities performed by banks wanting to be city depositories. These would include whether they provide: mortgage loan restructuring for struggling homeowners; financing for the construction of affordable housing; and/or credit and financial services for small businesses, among other criteria.