Los Angeles to Pull Investments from Foreclosure-Heavy Financial Firms
As the distressed housing market in the City Of Angels continues to grow, the entity that oversees operations, the City of Los Angeles, is its pulling investments and deposits out of financial institutions it deems are not cooperating with local, state and national foreclosure prevention efforts. The Los Angeles City Council instructed the city attorney to draft a new ordinance, called the Responsible Banking Initiative, that would require banks looking to do business with the city to submit a report on investments in local communities. The “report cards” would give insight to policy makers on the bank’s investment in the city. The city currently holds almost $30bn in investments, including savings and pension funds. According to the real estate data provider, RealtyTrac, the Los Angeles metropolitan statistical area (MSA) had the 32nd highest foreclosure rate in the country in 2009 as foreclosures remained concentrated the sand states. There, one in every 25 homes received a foreclosure filing, a 37% increase from 2008. California leads all states with the most permanent modifications under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), according to the US Treasury Department. The motion was introduced by Councilmember Richard Alarcón. His original proposal came in February 2009. It pertained to bank cooperation with foreclosure prevention, but after a hearing in September, the council widened the scope. Before the city makes an investment, it would examine bank location in the city, how many small business loans are offered and whether or not the bank re-negotiates on foreclosures. “The City of Los Angeles has an obligation to ensure that not only are our taxpayers dollars spent properly, but that they are also invested in a way that gives the greatest benefit to our City, and the report card created by the Responsible Banking Initiative will give us the information we need so we can invest smarter,” said Councilmember Richard Alarcón. “A slightly lower interest rate isn’t much of a deal, if the same bank is taking advantage of homeowners, refusing to issue small business loans or not opening branches or ATMs in low-income areas.” Los Angeles would be the biggest city in the US to create reporting requirements for banks looking to do business with the city. Write to Jon Prior.