Testimony at the RBA Hearing – Carolyn Waring

From the testimony of Carolyn Waring

Responsible Banking Act Hearing Testimony

February 12 2015

My name is Carolyn Waring. I’ve lived in the Bronx for over 50 years and am a leader in the Banana Kelly Resident Council and a board member of Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association.  I currently live inrecently upgraded, rent-stabilized affordable housing, but only because our collective efforts were effective in removing ownership from a terrible landlord whose greed was made possible by irresponsible lending.  As a member of the Resident Council, I are concerned about the role of banks in the loss of affordable housing in our community.

As part of our overall fight for affordable housing, we are here tonight to call on banks to cease issuing loans that over leverage properties. Predatory lending is incredibly destructive to our community.

The building I live in as well as 4 others are a prime example. The landlord had loans to repair the building, but none of that happened. Tenants were forced to live with holes in the walls that Rats ran through on a regular basis. Leaking roof, busted boiler, wooden hall entrance stairs, garbage everywhere, no locks on doors – these are just a few of the conditions that prevailed while our former landlord became a millionaire on the back of low income tenants and the city of New York. The smallest of repairs were left undone and NO Heat and Hot Water were a daily living condition.

The landlord also tried to evict tenants so the new tenants coming in could help with the rent roll so that he could pay for his over leverage building.

Preservation must equal Homelessness prevention. Banks should not invest in Cluster-site shelter buildings,as they are used to evict long-term rent stabilized tenants and perpetuate the cycle of homelessness over permanent housing. Instead, Banks should pressure cluster site owners for whom they hold debt to either place units back in rent stabilization and work with the city to subsidize rent for families who wish to remain as legal tenants, or transfer deeds to nonprofit and community land trusts who will preserve affordability.

Far too many people lack access to basic financial services in our neighborhood but there are plenty of fees. Fees at the ATM machines, late payment fees, fees for low balances. Transaction fees create an unequal burden on low-income families.

We look forward to working with you as we continue to hold banks responsible to the needs of our community,and find creative ways for good investments that create public benefit for all residents.

Thank you for your time and attention

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