The Philadelphia Tribune: Reinvest Philly Summit wants to open doors to economic opportunities

The Philadelphia Tribune, October 11, 2018: Reinvest Philly Summit wants to open doors to economic opportunities 

Elected officials and community organizers discussed discrimination in banking and other economic disparities at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition’s (NCRC) Reinvest Philly Summit on Tuesday afternoon. Held at Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District, the all-day conference brought together community leaders, public officials, advocacy groups, financial institutions and healthcare leaders, including City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District), State Senator Vincent Hughes (7th District) and Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

A series of workshops on the gender pay gap, gentrification, wealth building for “all abilities,” and speeches stressed a need for organizing to address the disparities.

“It requires all of us working together at the intersection of multiple sectors to see the kind of transformation this country needs,” said Jenn Jones, NCRC’S chief of membership and policy. “We spend a lot of time talking about the importance of engaging this November but really the work begins before November and it comes far after November. And, it starts in our communities; it starts in our neighborhoods; it starts with people.”

Jones’ end-of-day remarks were followed by a closing keynote address by Shapiro, who spoke about the work his office is doing to protect workers and consumers.

“One of the biggest issues that has been brought to light recently [is] redlining allegedly occurring in the city of Philadelphia. We launched an investigation immediately … and while I can’t talk to you about where things stand, we are deep into it,” he said.

Earlier in the afternoon, Hughes suggested that the state form its own publicly owned bank as an answer to discrimination in lending practices and lines of credit.

“If the banks are not going to do the right thing, they shouldn’t be getting state money and holding state money and making money off of state money while they discriminate. Why not create a state publicly owned bank that can take the mission of holing the state money [and] making the appropriate investments?” said Hughes, adding that redlining is the root cause of other issues including inadequate education funding and violence.

Speaking on gentrification, Johnson said elected officials have to develop solutions that allow for development, but still help people to stay in their homes.

“There’s a development side where you want to make sure long-terms residents stay inside of their homes but also there’s a market side where people want to move in the neighborhood, regardless,” said Johnson “Being an agent of government, I have to advocate and try to find ways to balance that approach but it’s most important to be impassioned about the issue and also holding the administration accountable to make sure this is a part of their agenda moving forward.”

The NCRC’s next event will be its national conference in Washington, D.C., Mar. 11 to 13, 2019. The “Just Economy Conference” will continues discussions on fairness in banking, business and housing on a national level.

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