19, No. 3
Feb. 9 - 22, 2006
Tenants Turn Up Heat on Bank for Lending Practices
By DAVID CROHN
Bronx tenants, led by Housing Here and Now, staged a protest a
few weeks ago calling on New York Community Bancorp (NYCB) to stop loaning
money to the city’s worst landlords.
The group, representing housing organizations across the city, released a
report listing 231 buildings in poor condition whose landlords receive
mortgages from NYCB. Twenty-three of those buildings can be found in
University Heights, North Fordham, Bedford Park and Norwood.
About a dozen picketers held signs reading “Fix it now!” and waved copies of
the report on Creston Avenue.
According to the report, “New York Community Bank has established a pattern
of lending that worsens the quality of life in the poor communities of color
where it operates.”
Some distressed buildings include 2290 Davidson Ave., which has received 18
complaints for a defective elevator; at 2592 Creston Ave., there are 13 open
violations for a defective boiler. At 2239-41 Creston Ave., where the
protest was held, tenant Yvonne White showed a reporter her apartment, the
site of 37 lead paint violations. She lives there with her two young
Having been unable to make progress with the landlords themselves, Housing
Here and Now has been going after NYCB. They say the bank should reform its
practices to make sure its mortgaged properties are well maintained.
“NYCB is not doing its job. The words of its own mortgages say that these
buildings must be kept in good repair,” said James Stanton, a tenant leader
with the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, a member group of
Housing Here and Now.
Under the community reinvestment act (CRA), a state and federal law enacted
in 1977, banks are required to meet the needs of communities in which they
A NYCB spokeswoman responded. “We have been recognized
for our service to New York with an outstanding Community Reinvestment Act
designation [in 2002], the highest level of ranking,” she said.
The spokeswoman added, “All of the buildings we’ve invested in, if you look
at them over time, have gotten better.”
As the Norwood News reported in November, Housing Here and Now’s last
protest was at NYCB’s Madison Avenue headquarters in Manhattan. The bank is
taking steps to acquire Atlantic Bank of New York, which would increase its
share of the multi-family lending market to $12.245 billion.
Housing Here and Now’s list of the city’s worst landlords can be found
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