Advocates say a Philly public bank could be key to addressing systemic racism

By Darryl C. Murphy on WHYY and The Philadelphia Tribute

Amid the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exposed systemic inequities, some say a public bank could be a key asset to Philadelphia’s financial recovery.

With a public bank, city officials would deposit revenue into and acquire loans from a publicly owned financial institution. Advocates, including the Philadelphia Public Bank Coalition — whose supporters include POWER, the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance and Reclaim Philadelphia — argue this model could save the city money by way of lower interest rate loans and generating its own profits that could be reinvested into local infrastructure, education, housing and economic development projects. (Philadelphia currently does business with private banks including Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Citizens and JPMorgan Chase.)

Advocates also argue that giving the city a way to invest in those kinds of projects could help address longstanding problems caused by systemic racism, such as the city’s 25% poverty rate which disproportionately impacts Black and Latino residents, according to a 2019 study from the city’s Department of Public Health.

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