Our position on socially responsible banking includes three elements: (1) divesting from banks that have engaged in unethical practices and/or supports the fossil fuel/natural gas industry; (2) Applying the Community Bank program currently in the Arlington County Investment Policy (pg. 4) to move public revenue to local financial institutions that will accept a mandate to earmark a percentage of their loans to community development and local businesses; (3) Fighting against predatory check cashing and payday loan outfits through a Bank On program that gives the unbanked and underbanked the ability to open low-cost or free checking accounts.
Currently, Arlington holds more than $200 million at Wells-Fargo, an institution with a consistent history of unethical and illegal practices, such as predatory lending, redlining, opening up fake accounts, and underwriting bad mortgages, among other abuses. These practices have disproportionately hurt minority households. In addition, Wells-Fargo has been aggressively investing in oil and gas and backing the construction of pipelines that devastate local communities, threaten the environment, and have become a significant source of racial and economic injustice.
ORA believes that doing business with banks such as Wells-Fargo is an implicit endorsement of their practices and that we should mandate social responsibility criteria to all our investments. We further support moving our public revenue funds to local banks and credit unions that would accept a mandate to earmark a certain percentage of their loans to community development. Socially responsible banking is an important part of the fight for economic justice, and as such, we support programs like Bank On, which combats the predatory payday loans and check cashing industry by providing bank accounts to the unbanked and underbanked.