Pass the Responsible Banking Act

The promise that our government will promote the general welfare and establish justice is embedded in the Constitution:We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Here in New York City, we have an opportunity to begin addressing how banks are held accountable to communities. Housing advocates, community activists and faith communities have worked closely to pass the Responsible Banking Act (RBA). Once signed into law, the RBA will provide sunshine and transparency on local banking practices, making them more responsive to the credit needs in our own neighborhoods. Banks will be required to report data on their activities in a given community, making it clear how communities are benefiting - or not - from bank loans, grants, and credit decisions. While the recent multi-state AG settlement is a small first step towards full relief for homeowners, it by no means should be the last. The Responsible Banking Act is something we can do right here, right now to hold banks more accountable to our communities. We are pleased to be working closely with Speaker Quinn, Council Members Recchia and Vann, on this important bill. Our allies, Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, NEDAP and many others have been instrumental in making sure this legislation will have a public comment period for community leaders to speak out on their credit needs.

The RBA is a good government practice and this model legislation builds upon the laws in Philadelphia, Cleveland and proposed legislation in Los Angeles. Momentum is indeed building with work of grassroots groups calling for greater accountability coupled with pressure from Occupy Wall Street. Now, more than ever, we must continue our efforts to keep the pressure on banks and their influence on local communities. We look forward to the passage of the Responsible Banking Act without further delay. For the banking industry to claim that they will not be able to function under a sunshine and transparency law shows how fair we are from justice and fairness. These times are a reminder to us of the divine hand's presence in our everyday lives. Proverbs 3 states "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it." It is time for some good to come to our communities from the financial crisis and some of the reckless banking practices.

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