How Seattle’s housing crisis could be solved with a Public Bank

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Photo courtesy Seattle PI

 

Activist Paul Alexander writes an articulate article in Medium that describes how Seattle’s emergency-level housing crisis can be directly and concretely addressed with a Public Bank, and why now is the time for grassroots activists to push their public officials.

Alexander explains that with a Public Bank, Seattle would be able to meet the needs demanded by advocacy groups. The city could also leverage a Public Bank’s power to help fund community land trusts and build public housing at dramatically lower costs, eliminating the issue private developers continually raise: that it’s not sufficiently profitable for private developers to build affordable housing. He writes:

“The right to housing must not wax and wane with the stock ticker. We must build institutions capable of holistically and comprehensively addressing our housing needs until there are no more impoverished citizens sleeping on Seattle’s streets, or devoting half their paychecks to the roofs over their heads —and we can start doing this right now.

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Cities charge ahead with Public Banks

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Photo by Etienne Martin

 

The movement to create municipal Public Banks continues to surge forward as more and more cities wake up to the powerful benefits it promises. An article out this week in Fast Company quotes PBI Chair Ellen Brown and describes the challenges faced by our allies at Public Bank LA when NoDAPL activists successfully pressured Los Angeles to move their money out of Wells Fargo: where to put city funds next?

Where is the banking institution that is large enough to handle the city’s sizable accounts, ethical in their business practices, and accountable to the public? The need became clear for a Public Bank with a mandate to serve the public. 

That’s our tax dollars that get siphoned off to profits on Wall Street,” Public Bank LA's Phoenix Goodman says.

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Seattle: Diverse coalition emerging around Public Banking

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Photo by Sarah Brink

 

Activists as diverse as Black Lives Matter, local tribal members of the Standing Rock Coalition, 350.org, Democratic Socialists, and MLK County Labor Council, as well as several experienced bankers, retired government officials and law school professors have coalesced along with Public Banking advocates in Seattle to pressure City Council to move forward on their newly approved $100,000 feasibility study.

For those in the Seattle area, join the Seattle Public Banking Coalition here.

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AG Sessions’ shot across the bow meets with protest from cannabis states

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Photo by Valerio “Dokka” D’Introno

 

News of last week’s declaration by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he would rescind the federal policy that permitted cannabis growing in states where it had been legalized was met with vehement opposition from governors and other state politicians. This declaration poses a particular problem for banks daring to take cannabis cash. California Treasurer and gubernatorial candidate John Chiang — who recently held a Public Bank Cannabis Forumresponded:

"Until the slow, clunking machinery of the federal government catches up with the values and will of the people it purportedly serves, states — like California — will continue to both resist and, more importantly, to lead.”

The invigorating winds of states' rights in the face of regressive federal policies could fill the sails of the Public Bank movement. North Dakotans see their Bank of North Dakota as a triumph of state sovereignty — asserting local control over their own money.

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Portland: Public Bank fans want to get City Council on board

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Photo by Zack Spear

 

Another city jumps forward in creating a municipal Public Bank. As Portland voted in April 2017 to stop investing city money in all corporations, and voted to stop banking with Wells Fargo, its City Council faces the same problem faced by many other cities pursuing ethical banking: big ethical banks accountable to the public don't exist.

Portland Public Banking Alliance is actively pushing the solution: create a Public Bank of Portland. 

“My hope is that a public bank would be a profit-making institution except the profit would be for public purposes,” says the Alliance's David E. Delk in a recent article in Next City:

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Ellen Brown: Student Debt Slavery, Part II: Time To Level the Playing Field

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Photo by Joe Brusky

 

PBI Chair Ellen Brown continues her investigation into the student debt crisis in her latest article in Truthdig. To battle their way out of debt slavery, students need to know their rights and mobilize. Ellen calls on students to throw their weight behind state-owned banks, which would cut out private investors and predatory middlemen and lend on better terms. She writes:

“We need to free our students from the system of debt slavery that has financialized education, turning it from an investment in human capital into a tool for exploiting the young for the benefit of private investors. State-owned banks can make the loan process fair, equitable and affordable; but their creation will be fought by big bank lobbyists. An organized student movement could be an effective counter-lobby.

Debt and austerity are control mechanisms for subduing the people. We the people need to take back our power.

[Read the full article]


Check out the legislative and legal resources posted on our website

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Photo by Caitlin Lin

 

For those actively working on Public Bank initiatives in your city or state, we now have many more resources to help you available on our website.

  • View examples of legislation being discussed in city and state governments around the country.
  • Read recent legal opinions that help navigate through the issues of law that inevitably are raised.
  • Review reports that detail the benefits of Public Banks.
  • And research the North Dakota statute that created the Bank of North Dakota.
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2018: The Year of the Public Bank

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Photo by Ryan Hyde / Flickr

As the new year dawns, people around the country are waking up to the power of a Public Bank. Tireless work from PBI-affiliated grassroots Public Banking advocates around the country has brought this issue to the forefront at both state and city levels. Next City just described Public Banking as the #1 best urban trend of 2017, a trend we know will only magnify in 2018.

The Public Banking Institute has been featured in Nonprofit Quarterly as a key engine behind this growing national awareness. It notes, "as frustration with the financial services industry mounts, the public banking idea is gaining increasingly widespread support."

Prepare for a year of intense action as we present legislatures with answers, expound on the many reasons for Public Banks, and organize strong public community support. We will be redoing our website, producing short sharable videos, and updating all social media channels. Be sure you are connected to our current new Facebook page, revamped Twitter, YouTube, and Vimeo for all the work to come. We will need your support this year more than ever!

 


How do Public Banks work in Germany? Check out this video.

Public Banks make up 43 percent of banks in the economic powerhouse of Germany. If you add in local cooperative banks, a whopping 70 percent of banking in Germany is not-for-profit. Commercial banks such as Deutsche Bank account for a measly 12.5 percent of banking there.

So how do the Public Banks in Germany keep their economy humming? Check out the latest video about Sparkasse


San Francisco Bank is a great idea, city budget analyst concludes

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Bank of North Dakota

 

A new article in 48 Hills shines light on the positive report issued in late November by the San Francisco Supervisors: 

“'A public bank would be better equipped to meet the city’s business needs and public policy goals,' concludes the City's budget and legislative analyst.

The idea is both well-established and profoundly radical. Today, San Francisco’s short-term deposits are in Bank of America, which holds about $130 million that’s used for payroll and other expenses. That giant North Carolina-based operation charges the city $780,000 a year in fees, the budget analyst reports.

Most of the city’s money – some $8.3 billion — is in fairly liquid investments, primarily US Treasury notes.

There is, in other words, plenty of cash to capitalize a municipal bank."

[Read the full article]


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