Esperanza Arrizon, Good Jobs LA
South LA residents determined to hold big banks accountable for cleaning up local communities, delivered trash from a vacant foreclosed home to BNY Mellon, one of LA’s largest holders of foreclosed properties. The action was held ahead of the LA City Council’s scheduled vote on amendments to improve enforcement of city’s blight ordinance.
After a devastating foreclosure crisis caused by greed and recklessness on Wall Street, thousands of bank-owned, foreclosed homes litter LA neighborhoods. These homes – often left unsafe and in disrepair – attract crime, drive down local property values and are a blight on LA’s communities.
LA has a blight ordinance that allows the city to collect $1,000 a day from banks that do not maintain their foreclosed homes. To date, LA has failed to collect a single dime from banks violating the law – a lost opportunity to hold irresponsible banks accountable and collect money to rebuild our neighborhoods.
Protesters held up signs reading “Banks Make Bad Neigbors.” One sign claimed banks owe the city of LA almost five million dollars in fines for ignoring the upkeep of foreclosed homes, allowing them to collect trash and centers for criminal activity.
“Big banks are devastating our communities, with blighted houses full of trash, crime, and poverty and taxpayers are covering the cost,” said South LA resident Angelina Jimenez. “It’s time to make the banks clean up or pay up.”
Activists collected trash from a home in dangerous disrepair on Wilmington Avenue in the Watts area and delivered three full bags to BNY Mellon’s lobby.
After the event, South LA residents went to city hall, calling on City Councilmembers to approve changes for better enforcement of the blight ordinance and to fine the maximum authorized amount for each bank’s failure to maintain their foreclosed properties.
The protest was organized by Good Jobs LA, SEIU Local 721 and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.