Banking Below 30 Solution Gains Support from Dallas City Committee

The full council will soon vote on a responsible banking ordinance, which would require banks seeking to take city deposits to first show they are lending fairly.

DALLAS — Banks that want to be hired to take millions of dollars in deposits of taxpayer money from the City of Dallas will first have to show that they are responsible lenders in all parts of the city — rich and poor — if a proposed ordinance passes later this month.

Members of the Dallas City Council’s Economic Development Committee were briefed Monday on a concept called a Responsible Banking Ordinance, which was featured in WFAA’s “Banking Below 30” articles on lending inequities between the North and North sides. south of the city.

The idea was unanimous.

“I want to thank the reports from the WFAA, the Banking Below 30 survey which I think is kind of the genesis of this,” Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Jaime Resendez said. “This survey shows that many banks choose not to lend or do meaningful business in our city’s low-income neighborhoods, even when federal law requires them to act fairly and not to do of discrimination.”

A responsible banking order works because local governments have a lot of money – taxes and out-of-pocket fees – to deposit. The ordinance would require banks to show that they serve all city citizens, from the wealthiest to the poorest, before being hired as the city’s official “custodian” institution.

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“We have leverage as a city,” Resendez said. “We deposit millions of tax dollars in the bank. I think we have a right as customers to know what the bank we use does, where it invests and where it lends. »

No local government in North Texas has such a policy. But 13 cities across the country have some form of responsible banking ordinance. Locally, DeSoto and Fort Worth both began researching how to get a prescription passed after pitching the concept in our stories.

John Heasley, general counsel for the Texas Bankers Association, told the committee that his group had consulted with the city on the wording of the ordinance.

“I think there’s a fair amount of data that shows that the banks — the FDIC-insured institutions in the city of Dallas and the county of Dallas — are trying to do the right thing,” Heasley told the WFAA after the briefing. “We’ve had conversations with our bankers in Dallas who would really like to publicize what they’re trying to do.”

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Committee Chair Tennell Atkins, along with Vice Chair Carolyn King Arnold and committee members Adam McGough, Omar Narvaez, Chad West and Gay Donnell Willis all said they support the order.

“I think it’s absolutely the right decision,” Willis said.

Arnold said that while the reporting requirements would only apply to banks seeking to accept city deposits, it would set the tone that policymakers were monitoring lending practices.

“We need to build a relationship with those banks that will be committed to all citizens, regardless of race, creed or color,” Arnold said.

Arnold is also in favor of holding a public hearing so that people can share their difficulties in getting loans from banks.

“We all know that these banking policies are due to institutionalized racism,” Narvaez said. “It’s a good thing for us, and we have to do it.”

Atkins said holding banks accountable is key to increasing the tax base south of Interstate 30.

“We need to invest in the south side of Dallas,” he said. “Our bankers are great institutions to help us spark economic development in the south side of Dallas.”

The full council is expected to vote on the ordinance on May 25.

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