News & Media Coverage

Brockton residents urge city to move its money out of Bank of America, other national banks

March 20, 2012  |  The Brockton Enterprise  |  Link to article

By Erik Potter

Enterprise StaffWriter

Posted Mar 20, 2012 @ 06:01 AM

 

The first thing Leigh Bigger did was kick the crack house out of the three­story building she bought on Bartlett Street in 2004. Last summer she started a craft program for neighborhood kids on her front lawn.

Brockton is the first community where she’s felt like she’s belonged, she told the City Council Finance Committee on Monday night.

But she said she’s in danger of losing her home and having it become yet another abandoned property in Brockton because she can’t get her lender – Chase Bank – to negotiate a fair loan modification.

Along with 50 other members of Brockton Interfaith Community, City Life and the Coalition for Social Justice, she begged City Treasurer Martin Brophy – who alone decides where the city will park its money – to stop doing business with Chase, Bank of America, and other national banks.

“They’re decimating Brockton,” she said.

Members of BIC presented a lengthy indictment on the lending and foreclosure practices of Bank of America in particular, which holds accounts for the Brockton’s payroll and health insurance trust fund.

Carol Delorey, a BIC leader and chairwoman of the Brockton Mayor’s Task Force on Housing and Foreclosures, said that Bank of America had the poorest rate nationally of loan modifications under the Home Affordable Modification Program, have been half­hearted participants in local loan modification seminars, and have been slow in engaging Neighborhood Housing Services of the South Shore in their modification efforts with homeowners.

“The only strong presence they have (in Brockton) is in the number of foreclosures,” she said.

Brophy said that he and Chief Financial Officer John Condon have been talking about moving the payroll account out of Bank of American, which recently informed them that they might start charging fees for the maintenance of the account.

He said several local banks would be able to handle the city’s business.

“Am I afraid to move the money? Absolutely not,” he told councilors.

He said he will be asking for quotes from several banks, including local ones, for the interest rates and fees they’d charge on the city’s payroll account, something the city hasn’t done since 2010.

He said the account – which handles about $170 million a year – could be moved to another bank by July 1.

Delorey said after the meeting that divesting from national banks won’t fix the foreclosure problem in Brockton. “But hopefully as this (divestment movement) grows across this country, they realize they have to change and deal with those modifications,” she said.

Councilor­at­large Jass Stewart, who sponsored the resolve, said he hopes to see the city follow through with the divestment proposal.

“Bank of America doesn’t deserve another penny from the taxpayers of Brockton,” he said after the meeting. “We need to move forward and find banks who do deserve it, whose stakes are tied to Brockton’s future.”