ANHD Applauds Signature Bank's Newly Released Commitment to Best Practices for Multifamily Real Estate Lending

Today, Signature Bank released a set of multifamily lending best practices, setting a high standard of commitment to ensure that mortgage lending does not contribute to the displacement of tenants. The Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD) applauds Signature Bank for this important step.

New York, NY - Today, Signature Bank released a set of multifamily lending best practices, setting a high standard of commitment to ensure that mortgage lending does not contribute to the displacement of tenants. The Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD) applauds Signature Bank for this important step.

This significant decision by Signature Bank comes in response to ANHD members working with tenants of bad-acting landlords, some of whom received financing by Signature Bank. Over the past two years, tenants organized together across the city and brought their concerns directly to Signature Bank leadership. They rallied, engaged elected officials, gave powerful testimony in meetings, and more. These powerful collective actions built tenant power, held the bank accountable, and lead to tenants and the bank's board of directors and senior staff coming together to create a set of best practices to combat harassment and discrimination. 

Citywide, community groups and elected officials are increasingly concerned that tenants in neighborhoods across New York City are under growing threat of displacement, as the ever-rising real-estate market creates a greater incentive for tenants paying affordable rents to be pushed out. ANHD member groups have been working with tenants of bad-acting landlords for some time. These landlords rely on financing from bank- and non-bank lenders, and it is increasingly clear that lending underwriting standards play an important role to either encourage or discourage tenant displacement and other bad practices. Banks are increasingly aware how important responsible lending is to support decent, stable neighborhoods, and we praise Signature Bank for their willingness to institutionalize tenants' concerns and for their commitment to an industry-leading set of best practices.

Signature joins New York Community Bank, which signed on to a similar set of best practices two years ago. These are two of the largest multifamily lenders in the city and their practices have the potential to impact tens of thousands of tenants citywide, and set an important standard that other lenders should follow. Signature's new pledge includes all three elements of ANHD's set of best practices: responsible underwriting, appropriate vetting of borrowers, and responding to issues in buildings they have financed. As part of the same pledge, they are hiring a tenant liaison to work directly with tenants and community organizations to respond to issues and gather information about problematic lenders and practices.

Banks are regulated under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), and under the CRA, banks have an obligation to truly meet the credit needs of the community with their lending. Lending that lead to harassment, displacement, poor conditions, and a loss of affordable housing, all of which run counter to that obligation. 

ANHD looks forward to working with Signature Bank to successfully implement this agreement and continue to set a high standard for the industry, and we believe that all multifamily lenders should adopt similar practices.

"Signature Bank has made a strong commitment to uphold the letter and the spirit of the Community Reinvestment Act through a strong set of multifamily lending best practices," said Benjamin Dulchin, Executive Director of ANHD. "ANHD has long recognized that responsible lending is as necessary as bad lending is destructive. We need banks like Signature to be lending to owners of rent-regulated housing in low- and moderate-income communities and to do so in a manner that does not fuel displacement.  This pledge demonstrates a commitment to do just that.  We look forward to working with the bank to implement this pledge - it has the potential to help protect our most vulnerable populations from speculation and displacement. We urge all banks to follow suit and adopt similar practices."

"We applaud Signature Bank for making this public pledge. Signature Bank is setting a high standard for banking institutions in New York City by committing to responsible real estate lending, that ensures that low to middle income long term tenants have safe and decent housing," said Rolando Guzman, Deputy Director Community Preservation at St. Nicks Alliance. "We encourage other banks to follow Signature Bank and implement good lending practices that will not lead to financing the displacement of long term tenants in New York City."

"We are very glad to see that Signature Bank has taken steps to refine and improve some of its lending practices," said Jonathan Furlong, Director of Organizing at Housing Conservation Coordinators. "HCC is hopeful that the concerns and challenges raised by tenants over the years have truly been understood and that the changes made by Signature will set a precedent for other institutions around the city."

"We as tenants suffered serious hardships when our building was sold and financed to a new landlord in a manner that led to dangerous conditions and displacement. Members of our coalition met with senior leadership of the Bank to share concerns and craft this set of best practices. So we sincerely welcome the commitment that Signature Bank is now expressing with regard to the improvement of its lending practices," said The 147 members of TTC (Tenants Taking Control, aka Toledano Tenants Coalition) with Cooper Square Committee. "The implementation of these new standards will hopefully make it possible for New York City's diverse, vibrant, talented and inspirational residents to continue to live and thrive here, avoiding displacement as the city continues to evolve."

"Yo llevé los problemas de los inquilinos en mi edifico directamente al banco a través de este proceso, incluso en reuniones con el liderazgo del banco.  Estamos feliz ver que el banco por fin nos escuchó y hizo los cambios que pedimos," dijo Jaime Steinberg, un inquilino de 2454 Tiebout Avenue y miembro de Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition."Esperamos que con estas concesiones se vea los cambios que queremos y que se ponga a vista el documento que formaron para ver que el casero cumple con los requisitos que el banco sugirió."

"I brought the concerns of the tenants in my building directly to the bank throughout this process, including in meetings with the bank's leadership. We are happy to see that the bank finally listened to us and made the changes we asked for," said Jaime Steinberg, a tenant at 2454 Tiebout Avenue and a member of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition."We hope that with these concessions we will see the changes we want and that the practices will be implemented so that the landlord makes all the changes the bank suggested."

About the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development:

The Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD) is the umbrella organization of 100 non-profit affordable housing and economic development groups, serving low- and moderate-income residents in all five boroughs of New York City.  Since its founding in 1974, ANHD has been key in making NYC's community development sector among the most effective in the US, providing comprehensive training, robust capacity-building and apprenticeship programs, and high-impact policy research. In the past 25 years, ANHD's non-profit members have built over 120,000 units of affordable housing in our city's most distressed neighborhoods.

Additional information may be found at www.anhd.orgTwitter: @ANHDNYC | Bloghttps://anhd.org/blogs/ | Facebook: www.facebook.com/anhdny  | LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/association-for-neighborhood-&-housing-development-anhd-/ 

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