Campaign to Hold Big Banks Accountable to Families & Communities
Our economy can and must work for everyone. The measure of our economy cannot rely solely on the stock market ticker or corporate earnings reports. The true measure must start and end with the level of economic opportunity we create for everyone, not just those at the top.
A new bottom line starts with:
- Ending mass foreclosure, and supporting families in their efforts to stay in their homes
- Creating pathways of opportunity for good-paying jobs for the unemployed or underemployed
- Requiring Wall Street banks to contribute fairly to public revenue and lend equitably to small businesses, consumers, and homeowners, rather than gambling in stock and bond markets
- Ending toxic predatory lending that disproportionately targets communities of color
- Investing our dollars in more community-oriented local or regional banks or credit unions
PICO and our allies at The New Bottom Line are waging multiple campaigns to build a new bottom line for families:
Seven million homeowners have either gone through or are currently in foreclosure. Another eight to ten million mortgages are likely to enter foreclosure before the crisis is over. Nearly one-out-of-four mortgage holders owes more on their mortgage than their home is worth, for a cumulative $700 billion in so-called "negative equity." The Center for Responsible Lending estimates that we are just approaching the mid-point of a very prolonged crisis.
While the crisis has had a devastating effect on practically everyone, families and communities of color have been disproportionately impacted. African-American and Latino families have lost more than half of household wealth since 2005, compared to a 16 percent drop for white households. The housing crisis is the major factor behind this drop.
While seven million have gone thorugh foreclosure, the federal government's main foreclosure prevention program has helped just 800,000 families get permanent relief over the last two years. Few of these modifications actually reduce the overall debt load carried by families.
To right this wrong, PICO is working to press both banks and the government to do more to help families stay in their homes, reduce underwater debt for homeowners and stabilize neighborhoods. Learn more here.
More and more clergy and lay leaders are publicly closing their congregation’s accounts with Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and other big banks, protesting their abysmal foreclosure prevention records and other unethical behavior and calling on them to extend much needed debt relief to struggling families and change their corporate policies. Many are also engaged in efforts to ensure that their cities, counties and even states begin investing taxpayer dollars in more responsible – and responsive – financial institutions. Learn more here.
Finally, PICO organizations have been fighting a vicious form of predatory lending - payday loans that charge up to 600% interest rates and are proven to trap people - particularly low-income people - in a cycle of debt. Many of the nation's big banks - including Wells Fargo - offers payday loans themselves, while other banks like Bank of America extend massive lines of credit to the industry.
PICO affiliates Communities Creating Opportunity and Missouri Faith Voices are working to cap payday loan interest rates in Missouri, which has one of the highest concentrations of payday lenders in the country. And PICO is working with allies to press big banks to stop funding payday lending, and instead, to create small-dollar loan products that charge a fair interest rate.
Green Job Development
In 2008, People Acting in Community Together (PACT) in San Jose, California won a commitment from the Mayor to bring over 8,000 green-collar jobs to Silicon Valley over the next 10 years as part of the city's Green Vision platform. As Silicon Valley gears up to play a central role in the development of the "green technology" industry, PACT is working to ensure that low- and moderate-income people benefit from the creation of new economic opportunities.
The ACTION Network in Gainesville, Florida worked with the city and their local utility company to create the "Low-income energy efficiency program" that provides low-income homeowners with $2,750 worth of work to weatherize their homes. The program also provides low-interestloans to make further weatherization and repairs.
San Francisco Organizing Project (SFOP) has won commitments for millions of dollars in workforce development for youth job training. In 2006, SFOP won $8 million for re-entry and youth job training as part of its "Avenues of Hope" campaign. In 2008, SFOP won a total of $17 million for workforce development as part of a community benefits agreement between the city, community, and private developer.
Communities Creating Opportunity (CCO) in Kansas City, Missouri won passage of the first state legislation that caps the interest rates on predatory payday loan operations in Missouri and creates a framework of consumer protections to regulate the industry. Prior to this legislation, payday lending institutions were charging up to 800 percent interest on certain loans. CCO continues to work to reduce the interest rate limit on payday loans.
Metro Organizations for People (MOP) in Denver, Colorado won the first in the nation city Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) policy that uses city funds to matches state and federal EITC.