Bank Accountability

Campaign to Hold Big Banks Accountable to Families & Communities

PICO is working with congregations across the United States to press the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve, Congress and Lenders to stop preventable foreclosures; help rebuild communities hardest-hit by the foreclosure and economic crises; and get sound, affordable credit flowing again into our communities to create jobs and economic growth for everyone.

The Problem:

It used to be that banks existed to help all Americans build wealth and prosperity.  Over the last few decades, a drastic change occurred.  Banks started focusing more on making massive profits for those at the top by using the money of hard-working Americans to gamble on the "Wall Street Casino."  When Wall Street finally lost its bet, the effects were devastating for the entire nation.

What PICO is doing:

1) Fighting Preventable Foreclosures

Over 5 million families have lost their homes so far, and as many as 8-10 million more could lose their homes over the coming years.  Meanwhile, the federal government's foreclosure prevention program has helped just 285,000 families (5% of the total number of families who have lost their homes) get permanent relief.  At this point, the primary cause of foreclosure is unemployment due to the massive recession caused, in large part, by the reckless behavior of the nation's biggest banks. Hard-working Americans are losing their homes to the very banks that took their jobs from them in the first place.

To right this wrong, PICO is working to press both banks and the government to do more to help families - especially those who lost their job through no fault of their own - stay in their homes.  PICO is organizing a series of field hearings with the Obama Administration focused on improving its primary loan modification effort - the Home Affordable Modification Program.


2) Moving Public Dollars to Responsible Institutions that Will Invest in Communities 


Homeowners are not the only ones suffering from the banks' irresponsible behavior.  City, county and state governments are facing massive budget deficits due to an economic crisis caused by the reckless behavior of the nation's biggest banks.  As hold large deposits of the public's money at the nation's largest banks,

PICO congregations and organizations are beginning to develop ordinances like those it helped pass in Los Angeles in March that will move money out of irresponsible financial institutions that are harming families and communities and into banks that are willing to keep families in their homes, invest in rebuilding our neigbhorhoods, extend credit to small businesses, spur job growth, and ensure fair access to good credit.  Watch our "Our Money, Our Values" campaign video to learn more.


3) Cutting Big Banks' Line of Credit to Predatory Payday Lenders

Finally, PICO organizations have been fighting a vicious form of predatory lending - payday loans that charge up to 600% interest rates and are proven to trap people - particularly low-income people - in a cycle of debt.  Many of the nation's big banks - including Wells Fargo - offers payday loans themselves, while other banks like Bank of America extend massive lines of credit to the industry. 

PICO is working to press big banks to stop funding payday lending, and instead, to create small-dollar loan products that charge a fair interest rate.