The Incorporated Village of Hempstead
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Hempstead, in Protest, Is Severing Ties With Chase

April 5, 2011, 5:14 pm
By CARA BUCKLEY

The village of Hempstead on Long Island is pulling its money from JPMorgan Chase and severing its ties with the bank to protest lending and foreclosure policies, according to local officials there.

“Chase has been identified as one of the banks that have a high rate of predatory lending and also for not helping to modify loans,” the mayor, Wayne Hall, said on Tuesday.

The treasurer, Ray Calame, said the village would soon begin to slowly withdraw the $12.5 million in operating funds and investments it had in Chase, ultimately ending Hempstead’s more than 20-year relationship with the bank.

The move is part of a two-month-old campaign led by New York Communities for Change, the community organization formerly known as Acorn, to urge elected officials, unions and religious leaders to divest their Chase assets.

Hempstead was the first known municipality to severe its ties with the bank as part of the protest, a group spokesman said. They contend that while Chase serviced a large numbers of mortgages in Hempstead, it had refused to modify a disproportionately large number of troubled mortgages.

Hempstead has one of the highest foreclosure rates in Nassau County. Citing the real estate data source, CoreLogic, a spokesman for New York Communities for Change said that nearly 4 percent of the village’s homes were in foreclosure, compared with just over 1 percent in Nassau County and 0.31 percent in New York State.

With a population of 53,000, Hempstead is almost entirely a minority community: 44 percent of its residents are African American and 48 percent are Hispanic. According to the mayor, this made the village a target. “Banks and brokers targeted the minority communities, and those are the ones that are hit the hardest,” he said.

A spokesman from Chase said the bank had been working to keep mortgage holders in their homes.

“In New York, Chase has offered 50,000 modifications to struggling borrowers and has prevented seven foreclosures for every one foreclosure here,” the spokesman. Thomas A. Kelly, said in a statement. “This past weekend, we met face-to-face with 2,200 borrowers in Brooklyn to help them stay in their homes.”