Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City, Inc.
Status Report Meeting
New York, NY
May 5, 1996
Not too long ago, I jumped into a cab at La Guardia and told
the driver, a fairly young man, to take me downtown. After a few
minutes he began to talk and it soon became evident that this guy
knew a good deal about banking and finance and economics in
general. It turned out that he had been a government economist
in his native country before he came to the United States two
years before. I asked him why he immigrated. He answered that
America is the land of opportunity.
He may have grown up 8,000 miles away, but in his heart this
young man was a New Yorker.
New Yorkers will use imagination, creativity and courage to
seek out opportunity wherever it exists. Where there is the
will, a New Yorker will find the way. It has been that way for
at least two centuries -- since Alexander Hamilton purportedly
operated a bank under the cover of a company chartered to supply
water to the city.
For 15 years, Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City
has been finding ways to bring opportunity to the community --
the opportunity to rebuild and revitalize neighborhoods -- by
furnishing credit and training to people who lack access to basic
housing finance. By linking people in all five boroughs of the
City with commercial and government capital, NHS of New York
itself acts as a financial intermediary. It is living proof that
a partnership of community organizations and the private sector
can work -- and can work well.
Since its creation, NHS of New York City has assisted more
than 52,000 city residents. It has rehabilitated more than 3,000
units, conducted about 1,000 home-maintenance workshops, and made
some 20,000 home inspections. Financially, it has packaged or
referred about $53 million in first-mortgage loans. In total, NHS
of New York City has facilitated $890 million in private and
Last year alone, NHS facilitated and originated $39.5
million in first-mortgage and housing rehabilitation loans. It
counseled 2,900 home buyers about first-time home ownership, and
it held more than 220 educational classes and workshops to teach
people how to assume the responsibilities of home ownership --
how to maintain their properties, do basic home repair, and
increase their home safety and security. Moreover, NHS
demonstrates to primary lenders the creditworthiness of lower
income borrowers by referring and pre-qualifying large numbers of
credit applicants -- 500 last year alone. In addition, NHS last
year rehabilitated 200 buildings.
Without the partnership with banks, thrifts, insurance
companies and other private sector organizations, however, very
little of the good work that NHS of New York does could be
I, for one, doubt that the financial center of the world can
long prosper within a community that does not prosper.
Encouraging and promoting neighborhood self-reliance and
educating people to help themselves are among the many things
that NHS of New York, and other organizations like it, do.
Without such efforts, this city would be a poorer place -- and
not just in material terms. Support for the programs of NHS
of New York and similar organizations reverberates throughout the
When The Dime Savings Bank donated space in its building for
the NHS Homeownership Center, it improved the quality of life in
When The East New York Savings Bank worked with NHS to
develop and initiate an emergency home repair loan program for
homeowners in the East New York section of Brooklyn -- and
provided a grant to pay the salary of an NHS staffer for this
program -- it improved the quality of life in New York.
This building houses Marine Midland Bank's New York
Headquarters. Fran Justa told me that -- along with many other
initiatives -- Marine Midland assigned one of its loan executives
to work with NHS for the first three months of 1996. In
assigning that officer to work with NHS, Marine Midland improved
the quality of life in New York.
Currently, 43 banks and thrifts provide loans and lines of
credit to NHS. Through its lending programs, NHS re-lends these
funds to rehabilitate the housing in low- and moderate-income
neighborhoods. Five institutions each provide loans or
lines-of-credit of a million dollars or more: Marine Midland
Bank; IBJ Schroder Bank & Trust Company; The Dime Savings Bank;
The Bank of New York; and National Westminster Bank USA, now
Fleet Bank. Working through NHS, all of these institutions
improved the quality of life in New York. They saw the need,
but they saw something more -- they saw opportunity. Through
NHS, they made an investment in the community -- an investment
that will bring financial rewards to the community and to
themselves as financial institutions that benefit from individual
initiatives that increase their pools of customers and increase
the financial well-being of the community.
Beckoning opportunity drew millions of people to New York
City over the decades. This city is a monument to what people
can accomplish when they are allowed free use of their
imaginations and creativity.
In the new Community Reinvestment Act regulations, federal
bank and thrift supervisors made it easier for lenders to bring
their imagination and creativity to good use in community
development, eliminating the most burdensome of CRA reporting
requirements while assuring that safety and soundness standards
are met. The regulations open up new possibilities to banks and
thrifts in creating partnerships to promote home ownership and
to revitalize communities.
That fact has not been lost on Fran Justa. I am sure that
it will not surprise any of you that Fran says she has been
thinking about how to make the partnership between NHS and
private institutions work even better.
As Fran mentioned earlier, NHS has two new consortium
programs that creatively address housing needs in the city.
One targets multi-family buildings of between five and
twenty units -- like the majority of housing units in New York
City. Much of this housing stock is old and in need of
rehabilitation. Small multi-family buildings are refinanced and
rehabilitated through the new NHS Multi-Purpose Loan Program.
Fran tells me that eight banks have already told her that they
are committed to participating in this consortium: Emigrant
Savings Bank, European American Bank, Citibank, Bank of China,
Chase Manhattan, Fleet Bank, The Bank of New York, and Republic
The second consortium is the CASH II Program. CASH stands
for Closing Cost Assistance for Homebuyers. The program pools
funds from local banks to provide loans for closing costs and
down payment assistance to help people otherwise eligible for
mortgage credit buy a home. In an earlier CASH program, five
banks each contributed $100,000. The pool was depleted quickly.
In the CASH II program, 10 banks invested $200,000 each, for a
total pool of $2 million. Those banks were Bankers Trust
Company; The Bank of Tokyo Trust Company, New York; Delta
National Bank and Trust Company of New York; J.P. Morgan
Community Development Corporation; Marine Midland Bank; Bank
Leumi Trust Company; Commercial Bank of New York; the East New
York Savings Bank; LTCB Trust Company, and the United States
As a partner, NHS can bring expertise to the table. It can
help banks generate quality lending in low- and moderate-income
neighborhoods. It can stimulate reinvestment in communities that
will be profitable.
Partnerships of organizations like NHS and the financial
institutions with which they work bring business judgment into
the process of community development. In doing so, these
partnerships help people learn to help themselves -- and that is
good for everyone: for the community and for business. I want to
applaud the NHS's many accomplishments -- but more important, I
want to express my hope that NHS -- and other organizations like
it -- will continue to serve this community for many years to
come. Where there is the will, organizations like NHS of New
York City will find a way of assuring that the vitality of the
City of New York continues to benefit all Americans.