This month, we are focusing on our work with the state-wide coalition known as the Community Equity Agenda. This coalition consists of advocacy organizations, legal services organizations, labor unions, and other CDFIs (Community Development Financial Institutions) across New York State. The top priority for this year is the funding of the New York State CDFI Fund. This fund was established in 2007, modeled on the US Treasury’s CDFI Fund – yet it has never been funded!
Learn about the Community Equity Agenda
As we mentioned in last month’s newsletter, we are continuing to update you on the activities our credit union participates in with groups throughout New York City and state. This month we are focusing on our work with the state-wide coalition known as the Community Equity Agenda.
This coalition consists of advocacy organizations, legal services organizations, labor unions, and other CDFIs (Community Development Financial Institutions) across New York State. The goal of the Community Equity Agenda is to get statewide legislation passed that will truly benefit the communities we serve by promoting economic and racial justice. We meet with legislators, high-ranking officials from the Governor’s office, and the Attorney General’s office to pursue this goal. The Community Equity Agenda is a package of several bills and suggested legislation.
The top priority for this year is the funding of the New York State CDFI Fund. This fund was established in 2007, modeled on the US Treasury’s CDFI Fund – yet it has never been funded! After 12 years, not a single penny has ever been appropriated for the NYS CDFI Fund. Each year the NYS CDFI Coalition, along with other groups like the New York Credit Union Association, have tried to get budget money for the Fund, yet it has never happened. This year the Community Equity Agenda has made this a priority, and in addition to working with allies in the Legislature, we are hoping to get it included in the Governor’s State of the State agenda. For initial funding we are asking for only $25 million.
Like the Federal CDFI Fund, the NYS fund would provide grants to CDFIs, including community development credit unions like ours, and loan funds. Most of the CDFIs in New York have already been designated as such by the US Treasury. As many of our members know, we have received several million dollars from the Federal fund since it was established in 1995. These grants have enabled us to open new branches, provide new services, and increase our capital, thus allowing us to grow faster than we’d be able to with just our own resources.
When the NYS CDFI fund receives appropriations, the state will be supporting the CDFIs that bring non-predatory services to the residents and small business owners throughout New York. For the first time, NYS will be enhancing the work of non-extractive lenders; keeping New Yorkers’ money in their communities and helping to build institutions that benefit those who need them most.
In addition to the NYS CDFI Fund, some of the other pieces of legislation the Community Equity Agenda has prioritized are:
- Creation of a worker ownership center. This would provide technical assistance and support to worker coops throughout NYS.
- Passage of a strong Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices (UDAP) law. New York is currently behind many other states in this critical area of consumer protection.
- Anti-redlining bills.
- Cannabis legalization.
- Legislation that would regulate Financial Technology (FinTech) companies to insure consumer protection.
If you are interested in learning more about these issues, or would like to participate in meetings with your State Assembly member or Senator, please feel free to contact Linda Levy: firstname.lastname@example.org.