Most of us have experienced getting fired from our jobs at some point in our lives. Some were for petty and weird reasons, others were valid—whichever it is, here are the 18 reasons people get fired!
Caution! Some were so crazy and hilarious that you won’t believe they really happened.
1. Exchanging Alcohol for Shrimp
One person shared, “I gave the fry guy an alcoholic beverage from the bar in a kids cup. He used to hook me up with coconut shrimp and fiesta rolls. They fired both of us lol. I wonder how Jamaar is doing nowadays.”
The second person replied, “I drank alcohol from a kid’s cup and got fired. I just wanted to try Angry Orchard. It wasn’t even good. I made the mistake of leaving the cup amongst other employee cups and a manager found it. I don’t even like drinking and it was just extra. But I am glad I am not the only person let go for drinking alcohol from a kid’s cup out there! Lol.”
2. Manager Scheduled Me During Class
Somebody commented, “My manager kept losing my class schedule. Worked at a subway. I had class two days a week. Several times he put me on those days anyway. I gave him multiple copies every time. Owner took me off the schedule for ‘Calling out too much’. When I showed the owner proof he said it was too late and they already hired someone else. This was 12 years ago. I’m still mad.”
Another Redditor replied, “I always hated the ‘taken off the schedule’ bull. Just fire me officially instead of taking the cowards route. This happened to me as well when I did not tell the general manager about a floor manager switching a product display TV to football one day. To be clear, she asked me, ‘Why did you not tell me?’ So she already knew it happened and was mad that I did not say anything. So I got ‘taken off the schedule’ because the other manager did something against policy and I did not narc.”
3. They Fired Me Before I Started
“A business I went to long ago was hiring, and I got the job. Right after I signed all the paperwork, the department manager comes in and asked who I am. I tell him I was just hired as a temp. Manager says he never authorized any hiring and fired both me and my boss on the spot. I did not work for this company at all, and they fired me,” said one.
The second person replied, “I had a similar experience. I was interviewing for a sales position and I made it all the way up the ladder through three different managers, to the advertising director. Had a great interview. He told me I would be the future of this industry shook my hand, led me to the HR manager’s office, clapped me on the back, and said to her, ‘We’re hiring him. Start the paperwork and I’ll see you Monday.’
“She was pregnant, tired, and annoyed. She looked at me with disgust and said, ‘We eliminated that position yesterday. We’re not hiring anyone.’ I asked if the director or managers knew that. She said they should. What followed was an embarrassing two weeks of promises that they would make a spot for me and weak apologies from the hiring managers. Ooof. Hired and fired within seconds.”
Finally, the third added, “They did you a favor. Working for a company that is broken and dysfunctional would be a nightmare.”
4. I Requested a Raise
One user commented, “I was denied a raise by HR after consistently working 60-70 hours weeks, and my VP (who had supported and requested the raise for me) told me to stop putting in the extra time, work my 40, and spend that extra time applying to new jobs. Within a month, a meeting was called to ‘mutually part ways’ because my work wasn’t getting done. I was gratified to learn that they had to hire two people to do my job after I left.”
Somebody else added, “Bet that felt good knowing they had to pay two people for what you did all by yourself. Glad you got outta there though!”
5. Fired for Putting in My Two-Week Notice
Somebody shared, “I got fired once for putting in my 2-week notice. The only other time I’ve gotten fired was working for a trade company during the first week. I was a supervisor, and there was a second supervisor on site. I got a call that my wife had been rushed to the hospital, which was literally less than a mile away. I asked the other supervisor if I could go to attend to her, and he said, ‘Sure, no problem, I’ve got things here. Go.’
“I returned to the job site later to find the boss there, and he let me go on the spot for leaving the team ‘Without a supervisor’. He knew what had happened, and still fired me. I won’t lie, that one kind of [made me mad].”
Then somebody else added with a similar experience with their wife, “Happened to my wife. She was due her first commission check, but they fired her on the spot when she gave notice. Literally about 100 bucks too.”
6. Fired for Sitting Down
One user said, “For doing my job too quickly and sitting down the rest of the time. Gas station cashier 3rd shift.
“Me: ‘Why should I stand when I’m the only person in the store?’
“Manager: ‘It’s more professional to stand than sit.’
“Me: ‘Then why do you sit in your office?’”
Another one replied, “I never understood that. Not once have I walked into an establishment, seen an employee sitting, and gone, ‘Wow. He’s unprofessional.’ I literally don’t give a f-, as long as you do your job.”
“Especially gas stations. If anything, they’re the kind of jobs I would expect to see someone sitting,” added another.
7. “I’m Only Here Until Something Better Comes Along…”
Somebody shared their hilarious job-related experience during the interview, “This isn’t why I got fired, but this is why I didn’t get a job. I was 16 and looking to work at a Dairy Queen as my first job. My mom drove me to the interview and I was super nervous.
“She looked me in the eye and said, ‘Just be honest and be yourself, and you’ll do fine.’ I walked into that interview, and when he asked me, ‘How long do you think you’ll work here?’ I responded, ‘Until something better comes along…’”
“OMG. My parents had to coach me on how to get a job when I started hunting. They were wondering why none of the jobs I had applied to had called me back so they started asking questions about the application process. Turns out you shouldn’t be honest on those personality assessments, at least not to the extent I was. They basically told me to answer as if I were another person,” added the second person with a similar experience.
Then somebody else added, “Amazing! Around the same age I was asked, ‘How would your friends describe you?’ and honestly answered. ‘They say I’m the crazy one.’ Weirdly did not get that job.”
8. They Handed Me a Check and Walked Me Outside
“I talked my way into a job at a software company when they put a hiring notice in a local paper. I had no idea what the software did. I still don’t. They hired me as a trainer and no one ever explained what the product was. I did a few weeks where I was trained on the software but literally none of it ever made sense to me. It was like they were speaking gibberish.
“One day I showed up, a lady I had never seen before gave me a check, and walked me out to the parking lot. No one even ever said ‘you’re fired’ or anything. It’s one of the strangest things that ever happened to me,” shared somebody.
“That reminds me of a time that I got escorted out early from a group interview. The company was a little suspicious altogether, and the interviewer was even more sus because he was just wearing all black (polo and jeans) and was absolutely decked out in gold jewelry. Looked like he stepped out of a mob movie or something,” the second person replied.
9. Because My Wife Was Ill
One user said, “I missed a lot of work because my wife got brain cancer. They called me in for a meeting and said, ‘Sorry, we are downsizing and letting a lot of people go’. They didn’t fire anyone else, including a co-worker who was caught fabricating reports.”
Then another one added with a question: “They didn’t announce the layoffs over the intercom in alphabetical order, did they?”
10. Job Abandonment; But I Was at the ER
Somebody stated, “I went to the emergency room instead of work. Came back with an ER note and they said, ‘We won’t be needing that. Can you come with us?’ I was 18 and it was my first full-time job.”
“I had pneumonia and a doctor’s note. Came back to work a week later wheezing and puffing an inhaler. Got fired the next week. Jokes on them. I still got unemployment benefits when they tried to fight it. Doctor’s notes are good things,” added another person.
Finally, the third added, “I went to a funeral and took the three paid days off and called off a fourth because it was my grandmother and we were very close. They called it job abandonment.”
11. Working With a Felony
Somebody commented, “My parole officer wanted to make sure I actually had a job, so he went to my employer listed on my file to surprise visit me on the job. I did home wiring so I worked at different job sites and rarely in the office. He called me to say he was going to charge me with a violation for lying to him about my whereabouts (this could’ve landed me back in prison for my remaining 10.5 years sentence).
“The owner of the company had to speak with him and vouch for me. My parole office didn’t charge me, but the owner sure did fire me that day. Finding a job with a felony isn’t an easy thing, and it wasn’t long before my PO threatened to charge me with a violation if I didn’t find a job soon.”
The second person replied, “What a f- clown process. I’m sorry you went through that.”
12. Let Go to Hire the Manager’s Girlfriend
Somebody said, “I was a kid and just started at a local pizza place. I was let go couple weeks later because a pizza chef from Chicago had moved into the area and needed a job so it was a business decision that I totally understood. Week later, went to go get my last check and asked how he was doing, the girl up front was like, ‘pizza chef from Chicago? The only new hire was the manager’s new gf.’”
Somebody else replied, “I got let go in favor of hiring the manager’s gf once too. Very irritating.”
13. Fired for Being 10 Minutes Early Instead of 20
“I refused to come in 15-20 mins early unpaid for my shift. I was always 5-10 min early but they decided they wanted me there earlier. I carried on as normal as I’m not coming in if I’m not being paid. Turned up for a 12pm shift at 11:49, no one would look at me when I arrived, then was thrown in a meeting and fired for being ‘late’. Was out the door before it even hit 12. It was the only time I’ve ever been fired,” shared somebody.
14. Building a Snow Sculpture
“I built a snow scorpion sculpture (I used ketchup for the red glowing eyes and everything) on a particularly miserable day at a ski resort. The guests enjoyed my sculpture very much, management weren’t so happy,” said one.
“Sounds like crap management. Sad. I’m glad to hear you made the guests happy, though,” the second person added.
15. For Sneezing
One person stated, “They sent me home because I sneezed and I was forced to get tested for Covid. Then, when I tested negative, I was terminated for ‘Abusing pandemic policies to stay home.’”
“That has to be illegal in some form,” replied somebody.
16. The CNA Lied About What Happened
“I asked the CNA I was working with to stay with a confused patient, while I went and put a new IV in another patient. The CNA left the patient alone. She fell out of bed and got a big bloody skin tear on her arm. After I took care of that, I went and found the CNA and told her the patient was injured because of her insubordination. The CNA cussed at me, and left the unit. I did not see her again that shift. She and another CNA decided on their own to trade assignments.
“I wrote the CNA up. The CNA went to mgmt and lied about me. She said I called her by a racial slur and yelled at her. I did neither. Mgmt fired me rather than deal with a false claim of racism. I collected unemployment.
“The CNA did something similar with another nurse a couple of weeks later, and was fired. My mgr asked if I could be rehired. HR said no. When my mgr quit to start her own nursing agency a year later, she hired me,” one person stated.
“You can’t pay me enough to go back to work in a nursing home. I have so many stories of problems between nurses and CNA’s getting each other in trouble and the residents caught in the middle,” replied another.
17. They Lowered My Pay So I Slept During My Shift
“They lowered my pay, so I started sleeping at work and did only half the task they wanted me to do. Took them 3 years to fire me,” shared one Redditor.
“I’m amazed at how long it can take sometimes to fire a person. I had a boss who got shoulder surgery and was wildly add*cted to pain meds. Dude would show up to work high as a kite and started at the ceiling for hours. He got away with it for about 2 years before anyone said anything,” the second person replied.
18. I Gave My Employee Meal to My Mother
Somebody commented, “I gave my employee meal to my mother. That’s literally it. I didn’t like eating the food there, so I had my mom bring me lunch, and I just gave my employee meal to her. Apparently, that was considered theft, so I was fired.”
Wow, some of the reasons above for getting fired were just crazy! Did you experience the same? Let us know in the comments!
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The credit score was invented in 1989 to make credit reports more actionable for lenders.
Credit scores affect many parts our lives: whether we qualify for a loan, what interest rate we pay, even where we can rent or whether we get our dream job. But that three-digit number is a relatively new invention—the credit score was invented in 1989, less than 50 years ago.
Understanding the origins of the credit score can help you better comprehend why lenders use it and how to improve your financial situation.
When Credit Scores Were Invented
People have borrowed and lent money for centuries. In the early days, storekeepers and lenders only extended credit to people they knew, or they would ask people they respected in town for their views on a person’s credit risk. This informal credit reporting system was highly localized and incredibly subjective.
But as credit became more critical to daily life and people began to move around more, the need for a more widespread credit reporting method arose.
The 1800s: The Rise of Credit Reporting Agencies
After the Panic of 1837 (partly caused by easy access to credit), Lewis Tappan recognized that businesses might benefit from a better understanding of who to issue credit to. In 1841, he formed Tappan’s Mercantile Agency, the first credit reporting agency in America, to meet this need.
His company hired “correspondents,” reliable men (often attorneys and ministers) who would investigate people’s standing in their communities and report it to the central office. They would then add the information to a central ledger in New York City. Many businesses subscribed to the Mercantile Agency to view these reports before issuing credit.
Tappan was a strict abolitionist, so he only worked with businesses in free states, so other credit reporting agencies began to spring up to work with businesses in the South. Hundreds of these credit reporting agencies existed all over the country by the end of the Civil War, but the system had a few problems:
Each agency had different information based on who they hired as correspondents.
Information was highly subjective and included information about a person’s race, gender, and overall moral character, which allowed bias to play a role in lending decisions.
Lenders didn’t know how to interpret the information in the credit reports because they were so subjective, and lenders often didn’t know the person applying for credit.
As more people began to access credit to purchase items like cars and homes in the late 1880s and early 1900s, these credit reporting agencies continued to thrive.
1950s and 1960s: Digitizing Credit Reports
This system was still in place in the 1950s when the ability to digitize records meant that some standardization could occur. Larger agencies started buying their smaller counterparts for additional data they could add to their reports, and national credit bureaus began to form.
In 1956, Bill Fair and Earl Isaac created Fair, Isaac, and Company to make credit reports more actionable for lenders. They used the data in a credit report to perform a statistical analysis that would inform a lender of a person’s credit risk. What resulted was a more analytical approach to interpreting credit reports, but each business or lender had its own algorithm based on the factors they prioritized.
As records continued to be digitized, many people became concerned about the surveillance being done to gather credit information and discriminatory practices in credit reporting. People also realized that credit mistakes would be available forever and could potentially hurt people’s ability to borrow for their entire lifetimes. The Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970 put several protections into place, including:
Removing data related to race, sexuality, and disability from credit reports
Requiring credit reporting agencies to delete information after seven to 10 years, depending on the type of data
1989: The FICO Credit Score
While more effective for lenders than the previous system, scores varied widely based on a company’s priorities.
The credit reporting bureaus wanted something more standardized, so they partnered with Fair, Isaac, and Company (now known as FICO®) to create the FICO Score, a national scoring model for everyone. The FICO Score debuted in 1989 and quickly became popular with lenders, who no longer needed to hire companies to create their own algorithms. Consumers, who could now know their credit score before applying for a loan, also appreciated the FICO Score.
In the 1990s, the FICO Score cemented itself as part of the lending landscape when Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac began requiring the score as part of mortgage applications.
VantageScore and Other Credit Scores
In 2006, the three major credit reporting bureaus—Equifax®, Experian®, and TransUnion®—launched the VantageScore®, an alternative to the FICO score. There have been four iterations of the VantageScore since 2006, and the latest version incorporates trended credit data, which includes monthly data points over 24 months. It also utilizes machine learning and does not factor medical debt into its algorithms.
Each major credit reporting bureau also has its own proprietary scoring models that lenders may also consider:
Equifax Credit Score
Experian PLUS Score
TransUnion CreditVision New Account score
Despite these options, most top lenders use the FICO Score.
Why Credit Scores Were Invented
Before the credit score, lenders determined a person’s credit risk based on credit reports, which include:
Hard inquiries into your credit
Public financial records such as liens or bankruptcies
Often, lenders weren’t sure how to interpret your credit report, which led to bias in lending decisions and general confusion for consumers regarding whether they would be approved for a loan when they applied.
The credit score was invented to standardize the lending process to make it faster and more equitable. It prevented lenders from using racial, gender, and class bias when determining someone’s credit risk.
Problems With Modern Credit Scoring
While credit scores eliminated the problems of previous credit reporting systems, they aren’t perfect. Here are a few issues with modern credit scoring:
Inappropriate use of credit scores. When the credit score was originally invented, its sole purpose was to determine credit risk for loans. Now, lenders, landlords, and employers often use it to determine a person’s level of responsibility, which can influence car insurance rates and hiring decisions.
Upholding social hierarchies: People with low credit scores, or the roughly 10% of Americans with no credit history, are often denied access to loans or credit cards. When they receive a loan, they often have to make a larger down payment and pay more in interest.
Racial disparities: While the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970 removed the use of race as an explicit factor in one’s credit, institutional racism may still impact the remaining factors. For example, redlining continues to prohibit many Black Americans from purchasing a home, preventing them from building wealth through homeownership. As a result, their credit length and payment history, two factors that impact your credit score, may be shorter. This may explain why multiple studies have shown that racial minorities have lower credit scores than white people.
Inaccurate information: A recent study found that 34% of people have at least one error on their credit report. These errors can lower your credit score, resulting in you paying more in interest. While you can dispute errors on your credit report, it may take time to see an increase in your credit score.
These problems could result in you paying more in interest for a loan or being denied the loan altogether.
The Future of Credit Scores
Credit scores have changed since they were invented and will continue to do so as consumer spending and technology change. Here are a few trends that may impact how credit bureaus determine your credit score in the near future:
Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL): Also called point-of-sale (POS) installment loans, BNPL plans allow you to divide purchases into lower monthly payments, often without interest. Currently, these short-term loans aren’t reported to a credit bureau unless you don’t make your payments, but that may change as technology advances to allow real-time data and these become more popular with consumers.
AI and Machine Learning: Experts are currently debating the use of AI and machine learning to automate and improve credit scoring. Some parties claim it will result in more accurate credit risk assessments and allow credit reporting to occur in real time, making it more accurate. Others are concerned about the potential invasion of privacy and the ethical use of data since AI is only as good as the data it is fed.
Inclusion of alternative data: Nearly 37 million Americans are credit underserved, meaning they have little to no credit history. As a result, they are unable to get access to credit. To help the credit invisible gain credit, credit reporting companies have begun considering alternative data, called consumer-permissioned data, including bank account information and monthly payments like rent, utilities, and streaming subscriptions. Currently, consumers can choose to share this information with lenders and then retract access once they’ve built credit, but this information could begin factoring into everyone’s credit score since AI can make this data easier to use.
Track Your Credit Score With Credit.com
Your credit score is one of the most important numbers in your life. Understanding the history of the credit score and its challenges can help you in your journey to improve your credit. As technology continues to advance, stay informed on the latest updates to credit scoring and take proactive steps to manage your credit with Credit.com.
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A character doesn’t become entirely evil or wrong just by virtue of being the villain. Villains suffer the brunt of it all; their primary intentions usually revolve around acts to kill, destroy, and wreak havoc.
Sometimes, it’s okay to write off these characters. Other times, it’s worthwhile to gauge things from a different perspective. After all, according to a famous quote, every villain is a hero, given a different context.
Are there times villains were right even once? Yes. One of my favorite instances is Scar from The Lion King, who believed Simba didn’t deserve to be king just because he was the firstborn son of Mufasa. Although he’s bad (and perfectly good at it), he was right.
There are others, too.
1. Chef Skinner From Ratatouille
You might remember the angry, possibly sadistic head chef from the Pixar animated film Ratatouille. One probably shouldn’t trust a man named Skinner, and he may have been wrong about many things, but he wasn’t wrong about not letting rats in the kitchen.
1. Chef Skinner From Ratatouille
Some people don’t even like another human in the kitchen while they cook, let alone a rodent. Even though he did it for selfish, dishonorable reasons, many people think Chef Skinner was right to keep Remy, the enthusiastic rat, out.
2. Magneto From X-Men
Either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain, eh? Magneto is the bane of the X-Men – but he wasn’t born with dreams of being evil.
2. Magneto From X-Men
Nine times out of ten, he starts with a good motive, a righteous cause. But the line between good and evil is so thin that he slips into becoming the monster he hoped to destroy. According to someone, “He doesn’t want justice. He wants revenge. And that’s the narrow line that separates a hero from a villain.”
3. Shere Khan From The Jungle Book
In my books, a close second to Scar is Shere Khan, the formidable tiger in the animated Disney film The Jungle Book.
3. Shere Khan From The Jungle Book
When Bagheera finds Mowgli, a human baby, in the jungle, she takes him to a mother wolf so she can care for him. Shere Khan, who knows the damage humans are capable of and once did to the jungle, warns everyone and tries to chase out Mowgli – for this, he’s seen as the bad guy. But I’m sure you’d see his point if you’ve seen the film to the end.
4. Zemo From Captain America: Civil War
A popular meme shows the Avengers have saved the world…after destroying everything in it. The irony, huh? Baron Helmut Zemo is a Sokovian nobleman and a major antagonist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Was he to blame for who he became? A surprising number of people debate this.
4. Zemo From Captain America: Civil War
Losing your family in warfare and finding their bodies later, while the ones you considered responsible returned home safely, is enough to turn anyone into a Thanos. And although he wanted the right thing – to avenge his family, vengeance consumed him.
5. Dr. Jake Houseman in Dirty Dancing
All fathers want to do is to protect, even when it seems like they are taking it “too far,”, especially with their daughters. I can think of some instances myself, but let’s keep the spotlight on Dr. Jake Houseman of Dirty Dancing. Fans think he wasn’t wrong to be wary of a guy in his mid-20s hanging around his teenage daughter. I agree.
6. Loki From the MCU
Get in here, Marvel geeks (draw out a seat for yourself). One believes “Loki wasn’t wrong about Thor being unfit to rule Asgard.” Adding, “In the end, Valkyrie ended up ruling while Thor ate Cheetos.”
6. Loki From the MCU
One might laugh about that – or see sense in it. Thor, or the mighty Thor, was entitled, self-absorbed, and perhaps unfit to be a ruler.
7. Count Dooku From Star Wars
Here’s another example of an antagonist who strayed too far from their original intentions. Even though good ideals guided him, the dark side corrupted him, and he became what he fought to get rid of. Still, fans give him his flowers. One said, “Count Dooku is an elegant, criminally underrated character.”
8. Tom Cat From Tom & Jerry
Tom Cat (yes, he has a surname) may have never said a word in the cartoons, but still, we all understood his pain. He was the villain for always pursuing and trying to hurt Jerry, but he was only doing his job. Once you looked beneath the cute mouse façade, Jerry was the devil.
9. Killmonger From Black Panther
This one is a hot debate involving cultures, racism, and colonization. But it revolves around the primary question? Was Killmonger the true villain? Someone felt like “they were grasping at straws to make Killmonger look bad in Black Panther.”
9. Killmonger From Black Panther
Many believe his motivation was right. One countered, saying, “He’s trained in propaganda and deception, and all his noble talk about Wakanda helping the world his manipulations.” As I said, hot debate.
10. Rodrick From The Diary of a Wimpy Kid
“It’s ironic when you grow up and realize Rodrick is the least toxic person in the family,” someone said. Dude just wanted to play in his rock band, Löded Diper, and occasionally get on Greg’s nerves. Which brother doesn’t? Often, his opinions of Greg and best friend Rowley Jefferson weren’t wrong!
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In February 2020, Tenisha Tate-Austin and Paul Austin decided to erase all traces of their existence in the Northern California home the Black couple had created for themselves and their children.
They “whitewashed” their home by removing their family photographs and African art displayed around the house. They had a white friend place some of her own family photographs around the home and greet the appraiser as if she were the homeowner.
The couple wanted to see if they’d get a better home appraisal than the one they had received three weeks earlier.
The experiment worked. This time, the appraisal (by a different appraiser from the same appraisal management firm) was almost 50% higher. In three weeks, the value of their Marin City home, 11 miles north of San Francisco, had gone from $995,000 to $1,482,500.
In March, the Austins settled a fair housing lawsuit alleging race discrimination against the licensed real estate appraiser; they’d reached a settlement in October with the appraisal management company.
Sixty years after Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his most iconic speech calling for civil and economic rights and an end to racism, one of the biggest roadblocks to building wealth for Black Americans is still in place: The housing gap has widened from the time it was legal to discriminate based on race.
In 1960, eight years before the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits property owners, financial institutions and landlords from discriminating based on race, the homeownership gap between white (65%) and Black (38%) stood at 27 percentage points. In 2021, or 60 years later, that gap had grown: 73% of white households owned a home compared with Black homeownership at 44%, a difference of 29 percentage points, according to the Urban Institute.
“We missed out on a better interest rate because of the unfair appraisal we received,” Tenisha Tate-Austin said in statement through her lawyer. “Having to erase our identity to get a better appraisal was a wrenching experience. We know of other Black families who either couldn’t get a loan because of a discriminatory appraisal and therefore either lost the opportunity to buy or sell a home, or they had to sell their home because they had an unaffordable loan.”
Explore the series:MLK’s ‘I have a dream’ speech looms large 60 years later
Housing gap:‘We are a broken people’: The importance of Black homeownership and why the wealth gap is widening
King fought racist housing practices in ChicagoThough King knew housing was an important topic when he made his 1963 speech (it included the line “We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one,” his focus was ending segregation in the South, said Beryl Satter, professor of history at Rutgers University in New Jersey and author of “Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America.”“The speech was about jobs and ending segregation of drinking fountains and restaurants, buses, trains, movie theaters and swimming pools to help pass the Civil Rights Act,” she said. Once that was accomplished, King trained his sights on housing in the North, particularly Chicago, where he focused on enforcing a pre-existing law on open housing, Satter said.The open housing laws in Chicago already forbade real estate agents from steering Black families into Black neighborhoods and dictated that housing should be made available regardless of race.“But like many such open housing laws, it was not enforced,” Satter said.In January 1966, King moved with his family into an apartment in North Lawndale on the West Side of Chicago to bring attention to the poor living conditions of Black families living without water, electricity and heat. He marched with Black and white supporters into segregated white neighborhoods to call for open housing.“And there he was met with the most violence he had ever been met with in any of his civil rights struggles. He said that the violence in Chicago made the whites in Mississippi look good,” Satter said. “He was hit with a stone while marching in Chicago, and he kept going.”Fair Housing Act became law after King’s deathFrom 1966 to 1967, Congress regularly considered a fair-housing bill, but it was ultimately defeated.“It was the first time that a Civil Rights Act had been defeated since the ’50s,” Satter said. “There was massive white resistance to any law or direct action that threatened racial segregation and housing. It was something that whites in the North fought to the death to keep.”After King was assassinated in 1968, President Lyndon Johnson pushed through the national Fair Housing Act as a memorial to King, whose name had become closely associated with the fair housing legislation.The undervaluation of homes in Black neighborhoods, decadeslong housing segregation, a systemic denial of loans or insurance in predominantly minority areas, a persistent income gap, and a historically limited ability of Black parents to leave their families an inheritance have contributed to the nation’s financial disparity, experts say.
During the housing boom of the early 2000s, Black Americans ages 45 to 75 disproportionately held subprime mortgages, loans offered at higher interest rates to borrowers characterized as having tarnished credit histories. Many of these mortgage holders lost their homes and have been unable to return to homeownership.
These trends will affect retirement prospects for Black Americans and their ability to pass down wealth to the next generation, making it not just one generation’s problems but an intergeneration disparity, experts say.
White wealth surpasses Black wealth
In 2016, white families posted the highest median family wealth at $171,000. Black families, in contrast, had a median family wealth of $17,600, according to the Federal Reserve. Homeownership has long been considered the best path to build long-term wealth, so increasing the rate of homeownership can play an important role in closing the wealth gap, experts say.
Over the past decade, the median-priced home in the United States gained $190,000 in value, making the typical homeowner 40 times wealthier than if they had remained a renter, according to a report released in April by the National Association of Realtors.
Some signs of hope emerged during the coronavirus pandemic, when mortgage rates were at historic lows.
During that time, Black homeownership rates increased by 2 percentage points, surpassing the white homeownership rate, which increased just 1 percentage point.
The historically low mortgage rates enabled high-earning, highly educated Black households to boost homeownership rates. Most high-income white households already were homeowners, which explains the smaller magnitude of growth, according to the analysis.
Black homeownership rate saw small improvements
From 2019 to 2021, the homeownership rate for Black households went from 42% to 44%; for white households it went from 72% to 73%.
After experiencing a continuous decline since the Great Recession, the Black homeownership rate finally made gains between 2019 and 2021. The reason was pent-up demand, said Jung Choi, a researcher at the Urban Institute.
“This suggests that affordability really matters,” Choi said. “Now, with the surge in interest rates, we are already seeing a sharp decline in Black homebuyers as well as younger homebuyers.”
Satter said King’s final book, 1967’s “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” cautions against complacency simply because there are laws on the books.
“He really understood that having a law in books was the beginning, not the end. Today we have the Fair Housing Act of 1968, and there are ongoing local, state and national laws that are supposed to stop housing discrimination,” Satter said. “I think King would have predicted that they would not be effective if there wasn’t a larger public will to enforce it and a strong political organization pushing to enforce it.”
Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy is a housing and economy correspondent for USA TODAY. You can follow her on Twitter @SwapnaVenugopal and sign up for our Daily Money newsletter here.
The Jefferson Avenue commercial district in Buffalo, New York, is anchored by a supermarket.
There are dozens of other businesses and services along the 12-block corridor — a couple of bank branches, a library, a coffee shop, gas stations, a small plaza with a dollar store and a primary care clinic and a business incubator for entrepreneurs of color.
But Tops Friendly Markets, the only grocery store on Buffalo’s vast East Side, is the center of activity. More than just a place to buy food, pick up medications and use an ATM, the store is a communal gathering space in a predominantly Black neighborhood that, for generations, has been segregated, isolated and disenfranchised from the wealthier — and whiter — parts of the city.
Which explains how it came to be the site of a mass shooting on a spring day in May of last year. On that Saturday, a gunman, who lived 200 miles away in another part of the state, drove to Jefferson Avenue and went into Tops, and in just a few minutes killed 10 people, injured three and inflicted mass trauma across the community.
It is a scenario that has sadly, and repeatedly, played out in other parts of the country that have experienced mass shootings. But this one came with a twist: The gunman’s intention was to kill as many Black people as possible.
To achieve that, he specifically targeted a ZIP code with one of the highest percentages of Black residents in New York state. All 10 who died that day were Black.
“The mere fact that someone can research, ‘Where will the greatest number of Black people be … on a Saturday morning,’ that’s not by chance,” said Franchelle Parker, a community organizer and executive director of Open Buffalo, a nonprofit focused on racial, economic and ecological justice. “That’s not a mistake. It’s a community that’s been deeply segregated for decades.”
The day of the shooting, Parker, who grew up in nearby Niagara Falls, was driving to Tops, where she planned to buy a donut and an unsweetened iced tea before heading into the Open Buffalo office, which is located a block away from Tops. The mother of two had intended to complete the mundane task of cleaning up her desk — “old coffee cups and stuff” — after a busy week.
She saw the news on Twitter and didn’t know if she should keep driving to Jefferson Avenue or turn around and go back home. She eventually picked the latter.
When she showed up the next day, there were thousands of people grieving in the streets. “The only way that I could explain my feeling, it was almost like watching an old war movie when a bomb had gone off and someone’s in, like, shell shock. That’s how it felt,” said Parker, vividly recounting the community’s collective trauma in a meeting room tucked inside of Open Buffalo’s second-story office on Jefferson Avenue.
Almost immediately following the May 14, 2022, massacre, which was the second-deadliest mass shooting in the United States last year, conversations locally and nationally turned to the harsh realities of the East Side and how long-standing factors that affect the daily life of residents — racism, poverty and inequity — made the community an ideal target for a white supremacist.
Now, more than a year after the tragedy, there is growing concern that not enough is being done fast enough to begin to dismantle those factors. And amid those conversations, there are mounting calls for the banking industry — whose historical policies and practices helped cement the racial segregation and disinvestment that ultimately shaped the East Side — to leverage its collective power and influence to band together in an effort to create systemic change.
The ideas about how banks should support the East Side and better embed themselves in the neighborhood vary by people and organizations. But the basic argument is the same: Banks, in their role as financiers and because of the industry’s history of lending discrimination, are obligated to bring forth economic prosperity in disinvested communities like the East Side.
I know banks are often looked upon sort of like a panacea, but I don’t particularly see it that way. I think others have a role to play in all of this.
Chiwuike Owunwanne, corporate responsibility officer at KeyBank
“Banks have been very good at providing charitable contributions to the Black community. They get an ‘A’ for that,” said The Rev. George Nicholas, an East Side pastor who is also CEO of the Buffalo Center for Health Equity, a four-year-old enterprise focused on racial, geographic and economic health disparities. “But doing the things that banks can do in terms of being a catalyst for revitalization and investment in this community, they have not done that.”
To be sure, banks’ ability to reverse the course of the community isn’t guaranteed — and there is no formula to determine how much accountability they should hold to fix deeply entrenched problems like racism. Several Buffalo-area bankers said that while the Tops shooting heightened the urgency to help the East Side, the industry itself cannot be the sole driver of change.
“There are a lot of institutions … that can certainly play a part in reversing the challenges that we see today,” said Chiwuike “Chi-Chi” Owunwanne, a corporate responsibility officer at KeyBank, the second-largest bank by deposits in Buffalo. “I know banks are often looked upon sort of like a panacea, but I don’t particularly see it that way. I think others have a role to play in all of this.”
A long history of segregation
How the East Side — and the Tops store on Jefferson Avenue — became the destination for a racially motivated mass murderer is a story about racism, segregation and disinvestment.
Even as it bears the nickname “the city of good neighbors,” Buffalo has long been one of the most racially segregated cities in the United States. Of the 114,965 residents who live on the East Side, 59% are Black, according to data from the 2021 U.S. Census American Community Survey. The percentage is even higher in the 14208 ZIP code, where the Tops store is located. In that ZIP code, among 11,029 total residents, nearly 76% are Black, the census data shows.
The city’s path toward racial segregation started in the early 20th century when a small number of job-seeking Black Americans migrated north to Buffalo, a former steel and auto manufacturing hub at the far northwestern end of New York state. Initially, they moved into the same neighborhoods as many of the city’s poorer immigrants and lived just east of what is today the city’s downtown district. As the number of Blacks arriving in Buffalo swelled in the 1940s, they were increasingly confronted with various housing challenges, including racist zoning laws and restrictive deed covenants that kept them from buying homes in more affluent white areas.
Black Buffalonians also faced housing discrimination in the form of redlining, the practice of restricting the flow of capital into minority communities. In 1933, as the Great Depression roiled the economy, a temporary federal agency known as the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation used government bonds to buy out and refinance mortgages of properties that were facing or already in foreclosure. The point was to try to stabilize the nation’s real estate market.
As part of its program, HOLC created maps of American cities, including Buffalo, that used a color coding scheme — green, blue, yellow and red — to convey the perceived riskiness of making loans in certain neighborhoods. Green was considered minimally risky; other areas that were largely populated by immigrant, Black or Latino residents were labeled red and thus determined to be “hazardous.”
“The goal was to free up mortgage capital by going to cities and giving banks a way to unload mortgages, so they could turn around and make more mortgage loans,” said Jason Richardson, senior director of research at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, an association of more than 750 community-based organizations that advocates for fair lending. “It was kind of a radical concept and it has evolved over the decades into our modern mortgage finance system.”
The Federal Housing Administration, which was established as a permanent agency in 1934, used similar methods to map urban areas and labeled neighborhoods from “A” to “D,” with “A” considered to be the most financially stable and “D” considered the least. Neighborhoods that were largely Black, even relatively stable ones, were put in the “D” category.
The result was that banks, which wanted to be able to sell mortgage loans to the FHA, were largely dissuaded from making loans in “risky” areas. And Buffalo’s East Side, where the majority of Blacks were settling, was deemed risky. Unable to get loans, Blacks couldn’t buy homes, start businesses or build equity. At the same time, large industrial factories on the East Side were closing or moving away, limiting job opportunities and contributing to rising poverty levels.
“Today what we’re left with is the residue of this process where we’ve enshrined … a pattern of economic segregation that favors neighborhoods that had fewer Black people in them and generally ignores neighborhoods that had African Americans living in them,” Richardson said.
Case in point: Research by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition shows that three-quarters of neighborhoods that were once redlined are low- to moderate-income neighborhoods today, and two-thirds of them are majority minority communities.
Adding to the division between Blacks and whites in Buffalo was the construction of a highway called the Kensington Expressway. Built during the 1960s, the below-grade, limited-access highway proved to be a speedy way for suburban workers to get to their downtown jobs. But its construction cut off the already-segregated East Side even more from other parts of the city, displacing residents, devaluing houses and destroying neighborhoods and small businesses.
As a result of those factors and more, many Black residents have become “trapped” on the East Side, according to Dr. Henry Louis Taylor Jr., a professor of urban and regional planning at the University at Buffalo. In 1987, Taylor founded the UB Center for Urban Studies, a research, neighborhood planning and community development institute that works on eliminating inequality in cities and metropolitan regions. In September 2021, eight months before the Tops shooting, the Center for Urban Studies published a report that compared the state of Black Buffalo in 1990 to present-day conditions. The conclusion: Nothing had changed for Blacks over 31 years.
As of 2019, the Black unemployment rate was 11%, the average household income was $42,000 and about 35% of Blacks had incomes that fell below the poverty line, the report said. It also noted that just 32% of Blacks own their homes and that most Blacks in the area live on the East Side.
“Those figures remain virtually unchanged while the actual, physical conditions that existed inside of the community worsened,” Taylor told American Banker in an interview in his sun-filled office at the center, located on the University at Buffalo’s city campus. “When we looked upstream to see what was causing it, it was clear: It was systemic, structural racism.”
Banks’ moral obligations
As the East Side struggled over the decades with rampant poverty, dilapidated housing, vacant lots and disintegrating infrastructure, banks kept a physical presence in the community, albeit a shrinking one. In mid-2000, there were at least 20 bank branches scattered across the East Side, but by mid-2022, the number had fallen to around 14, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s deposit market share data. The 14 include four new branches that have opened since early 2019 — Northwest Bank, KeyBank, Evans Bank and BankOnBuffalo.
The first two branches, operated by Northwest in Columbus, Ohio, and KeyBank, the banking subsidiary of KeyCorp in Cleveland, were requirements of community benefits agreements negotiated between each bank and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. In both cases, Northwest and KeyBank agreed to open an office in an underserved community.
Evans Bank opened its first East Side branch in the fall of 2021. The office is located in the basement of an $84 million affordable senior housing building that was financed by Evans, a $2.1 billion-asset community bank headquartered south of Buffalo in Angola, New York.
Banks have been very good at providing charitable contributions to the Black community. They get an ‘A’ for that. But doing the things that banks can do in terms of being a catalyst for revitalization and investment in this community, they have not done that.
The Rev. George Nicholas, an East Side pastor who is also CEO of the Buffalo Center for Health Equity
On the community and economic development front, banks have had varying levels of participation. Buffalo-based M&T Bank, which holds a whopping 64% of all deposits in the Buffalo market and is one of the largest private employers in the region, has made consistent investments in the East Side by supporting Westminster Community Charter School, a kindergarten through eighth-grade school, and the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood, a nonprofit organization focused on improving access to education in the city’s 14215 ZIP code.
Currently, Buffalo Promise Neighborhood operates four schools. In addition to Westminster, it runs Highgate Heights Elementary, also K-8, as well as two academies that serve children ages six weeks through pre-kindergarten. Twelve M&T employees are dedicated to the program, according to the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood website. The bank has invested $31.5 million into the program since its 2010 launch, a spokesperson said.
Other banks are making contributions in other ways. In addition to the Jefferson Avenue branch and as part of its community benefits plan, Northwest Bank, a $14.2 billion-asset bank, supports a financial education center through a partnership with Belmont Housing Resources of Western New York. Meanwhile, the $198 billion-asset KeyBank gave $30 million for bridge and construction financing for Northland Workforce Training Center, a $100 million redevelopment project at a former manufacturing complex on the East Side that was partially funded by the state.
BankOnBuffalo’s East Side branch is located inside the center, which offers KeyBank training in advanced manufacturing and clean energy technology careers. A subsidiary of $5.6 billion-asset CNB Financial in Clearfield, Pennsylvania, BankOnBuffalo’s office opened a month after the shooting. The timing was coincidental, but important, said Michael Noah, president of BankOnBuffalo.
“I think it just cemented the point that this is a place we need to be, to be able to be part of these communities and this community specifically, and be able to build this community up,” Noah said.
In terms of public-private collaboration, some banks have been involved in a deeper way. In 2019, New York state, which had already been pouring $1 billion into Buffalo to help revitalize the economy, announced a $65 million economic development fund for the East Side. The initiative is focused on stabilizing neighborhoods, increasing homeownership, redeveloping commercial corridors including Jefferson Avenue, improving historical assets, expanding workforce training and development and supporting small businesses and entrepreneurship.
In conjunction with the funding, a public-private partnership called East Side Avenues was created to provide capital and organizational support to the projects happening along four East Side commercial corridors. Six banks — Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America, the second-largest bank in the nation with $2.5 trillion of assets; M&T, which has $203 billion of assets; KeyBank; Warsaw, New York-based Five Star Bank, which has about $6 billion of assets; Northwest and Evans — are among the 14 private and philanthropic organizations that pledged a combined $8.4 million to pay for five years’ worth of operational support, governance and finance, fundraising and technical assistance to support the nonprofits doing the work.
Laura Quebral, director of the University at Buffalo Regional Institute, which is managing East Side Avenues, said the banks were the first corporations to step up to the request for help, and since then have provided loans and other products and education to keep the program moving.
Their participation “is a signal to the community that banks cared and were invested and were willing to collaborate around something,” Quebral said. “Being at the table was so meaningful.”
Richard Hamister is Northwest’s New York regional president and former co-chair of East Side Avenues. Hamister, who is based in Buffalo, said banks are a “community asset” that have a responsibility to lift up all communities, including those where conditions have arisen that allow it to be a target of racism like the East Side.
“We operate under federal charters, so we have an obligation to the community to not only provide products and services they need but also support when you go through a tragedy like that,” Hamister said. “We also have a moral obligation to try to help when things are broken … and to do what we can. We can’t fix everything, but we’ve got to fix our piece and try to help where we can.”
In the wake of a tragedy
After the massacre, there was a flurry of activity within banks and other organizations, local and out-of-town, to respond to the immediate needs of East Side residents. With the community’s only supermarket closed indefinitely, much of the response centered around food collection and distribution. Three of M&T’s five East Side branches, including the Jefferson Avenue branch across the street from Tops, became food distribution sites for weeks after the shooting. On two consecutive Fridays, Northwest provided around 200 free lunches to the community, using a neighborhood caterer who is also the bank’s customer. And BankOnBuffalo collected employee donations that amounted to more than 20 boxes of toiletries and other items that were distributed to a nonprofit.
At the same time, M&T, KeyBank and other banks began financial donations to organizations that could support the immediate needs of the community. KeyBank provided a van that delivered food and took people to nearby grocery stores. Providence, Rhode Island-based Citizens Financial Group, whose ATM inside Tops was inaccessible during the store’s temporary closure, installed a fee-free ATM near a community center located about a half-mile north of Tops, and later put a permanent ATM inside the center that remains there today. And M&T rolled out a short-term loan program to provide capital to East Side small-business owners.
One of the funds that benefited from banks’ support was the Buffalo Together Community Response Fund, which has raised $6.2 million to address the long-term needs of the East Side.
Bank of America and Evans Bank each donated $100,000 to the fund, whose list of major sponsors includes four other banks — JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, M&T and KeyBank. Thomas Beauford Jr., a former banker who is co-chair of the response fund, said banks, by and large, directed their resources into organizations where the dollars would have an immediate impact.
“Banks said, ‘Hey, you know … it doesn’t make sense for us to try to build something right now. … We will fund you in the work you’re doing,'” said Beauford, who has been president and CEO of the Buffalo Urban League since the fall of 2020. “I would say banks showed up in a big way.”
Fourteen months later, banks say they are committed to playing a positive role on the East Side. For the second year, KeyBank is sponsoring a farmers’ market on the East Side, an attempt to help fill the food desert in the community. Last fall, BankOnBuffalo launched a mobile “bank on wheels” truck that’s stationed on the East Side every Wednesday. The 34-foot-long truck, which is staffed by two people and includes an ATM and a printer to make debit cards, was in the works before the shooting, and will eventually make four stops per week around the Buffalo area.
Evans has partnered with the city of Buffalo to construct seven market-rate single family homes on vacant lots on the East Side. The relationship with the city is an example of how banks can pair up with other entities to create something meaningful and lasting, more than they might be able to do on their own, said Evans President and CEO David Nasca.
The bank has “picked areas” where it can use its resources to make a difference, Nasca said.
“I don’t think the root causes can be ameliorated” by banks alone, he said. “We can’t just grant money. It has to be within our construct of a financial institution that invests and supports the public-private partnership. … All the oars [need to be] pulling together or this doesn’t work.”
‘Little or no engagement with minorities’
All of these efforts are, of course, welcomed by the community, but there is still criticism that banks haven’t done enough to make up for their past contributions to segregating the city. And perhaps more importantly, some of that criticism centers on banks failing to do their most basic function in society — provide credit.
In 2021, the New York State Department of Financial Services issued a report about redlining in Buffalo. The regulator looked at banks and nonbank lenders and found that loans made to minorities in the Buffalo metro area made up 9.74% of total loans in Buffalo. Overall, Black residents comprise about 33% of Buffalo’s total population of more than 276,000, census data shows.
The department said its investigation showed the lower percentage was not due to “excessive denials of loan applications based on race or ethnicity,” but rather that “these companies had little or no engagement with minorities and generally made scant effort to do so.”
“The unsurprising result of this has been that few minority customers or individuals seeking homes in majority-minority neighborhoods have made loan applications … in the first instance.”
Furthermore, accusations of redlining persist today, even though the practice of discriminating in housing based on race was outlawed by the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
In 2014, Evans was accused of redlining by the New York State Attorney General, which said the community bank was specifically avoiding making mortgage loans on the East Side. The bank, which at the time had $874 million of assets, agreed to pay $825,000 to settle the case, but Nasca maintains that the charges were unfounded. He points to the fact that the bank never had a fair lending or fair housing violation, no specific incidents were ever claimed and that the bank’s Community Reinvestment Act exam never found evidence of discriminatory or illegal credit practices.
The bank has a greater presence on the East Side today, but that’s because it has grown in size, not because it is trying to make up for previous accusations of redlining, he said.
“Ten years ago, our involvement [on the East Side] certainly wasn’t what you’re seeing today,” Nasca said. “We were looking to participate more, but we were participating within our means and our reach. As we have grown, we have built more resources to be able to do more.”
Shortly after accusations were made against Evans, Five Star Bank, the banking arm of Financial Institutions in Warsaw, New York, was also accused of redlining by the state Attorney General. Five Star, which has been growing its presence in the Buffalo market for several years, wound up settling the charges for $900,000 and agreeing to open two branches in the city of Rochester.
KeyBank is currently being accused of redlining by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. In a 2022 report, the group said that KeyBank is engaging in systemic redlining by making very few home purchase loans in certain neighborhoods where the majority of residents are Black. Buffalo is one of several cities where the bank’s mortgage lending “effectively wall[ed] out Black neighborhoods,” especially parts of the East Side, the report said.
KeyBank denied the allegations. In March, the coalition asked regulators to investigate the bank’s mortgage lending practices.
Beyond providing more credit, some community members believe that banks should be playing a larger role in addressing other needs on the East Side. And the list of needs runs the gamut from more grocery stores to safe, affordable housing to infrastructure improvements such as street and sidewalk repairs.
Alexander Wright is founder of the African Heritage Food Co-op, an initiative launched in 2016 to address the dearth of grocery store options on the East Side, where he grew up. Wright said that while banks’ philanthropic efforts are important, banks in general “need to be in a place of remediation” to fix underlying issues that the industry, as a whole, helped create. (After publication of this story, Wright left his job as CEO of the African Heritage Food Co-Op.)
Aside from charitable donations, banks should be finding more ways to work directly with East Side business owners and entrepreneurs, helping them with capital-building support along the way, Wright said. One place to start would be technical assistance by way of bank volunteers.
“Banks are always looking to volunteer. ‘Hey, want to come out and paint a fence? Want to come out and do a garden?'” Wright said. “No. Come out here and help Keshia with bookkeeping. Come out here and do QuickBooks classes for folks. Bring out tax experts. Because these are things that befuddle a lot of small businesses. Who is your marketing person? Bring that person out here. Because those are the things that are going to build the business to self-sufficiency.
“Anything short of the capacity-building … that will allow folks to rise to the occasion and be self-sufficient I think is almost a waste,” Wright added. “We don’t need them to lead the plan. What we need them to do is be in the community and [be] hearing the plan and supporting it.”
Parker, of Open Buffalo, has similar thoughts about the role that banks should play. One day, soon after the massacre, an ATM appeared down the street from Tops, next to the library that sits across the street from Parker’s office. Soon after the ATM was installed, Parker began fielding questions from area residents who were skeptical of the machine and wanted to know if it was legitimate. But Parker didn’t have any information to share with them. “There was no outreach. There was no community engagement. So I’m like, ‘Let me investigate,'” she said. “I think that’s a symptom of how investment is done in Black communities, even though it may be well-intentioned.”
As it turns out, the temporary ATM belonged to JPMorgan Chase. The megabank has had a commercial banking presence in Buffalo for years, but it didn’t operate a retail branch in the region until last year. Today it has four branches in operation and plans to open another two by the end of the year, a spokesperson said.
After the Tops shooting, the governor’s office reached out to Chase asking if the bank could help in some way, the spokesperson said in response to the skepticism. The spokesperson said that while the Chase retail brand is new to the Buffalo region, the company has been active in the market for decades by way of commercial banking, private banking, credit card lending, home lending and other businesses.
In addition to the ATM, the bank provided funding to local organizations including FeedMore Western New York, which distributes food throughout the region.
“We are committed to continuing our support for Buffalo and helping the community increase access to opportunities that build wealth and economic empowerment,” the spokesperson said in an email.
In the year since the massacre, there has been some progress by banks in terms of their interest in listening to the East Side community and learning about its needs, said Nicholas. But he hasn’t felt an air of urgency from the banking community to tackle the issues right now.
“I do experience banks being a little more open to figuring out what their role is, but it’s slow. It’s slow,” said Nicholas. The senior pastor of the Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church, located about a mile north from Tops, Nicholas is part of a 13-member local advisory committee for the New York arm of Local Initiatives Support Coalition, or LISC. The group is focused on mobilizing resources, including banks, to address affordable housing in Western New York, specifically in the inner city, as well as training minority developers and connecting them to potential investors, Nicholas said.
Of the 13 members, seven are from banks — one each from M&T, Bank of America, BankOnBuffalo, Evans and KeyBank, and two members from Citizens Financial Group. One of the priorities of LISC NY is health equity, and the fact that banks are becoming more engaged in looking at health disparities is promising, Nicholas said. Still, they have more work to do, he said.
“I need them to think more on how to strengthen and build the economy on the East Side and provide leadership around that, not only to provide charitable things, but using sound business and banking and community development principles to say, ‘OK, if we’re going to invest in this community, these are the types of things that need to happen in this community,’ and then encourage their partners and other people they work with … to come fully in on the East Side.”
Some bankers agree with the community activists.
“Putting a branch in is great. Having a bank on wheels is great,” said Noah of BankOnBuffalo. “But if you’re not embedded in the community, listening to the community and trying to improve it, you’re not creating that wealth and creating a better lifestyle for everyone.”
What could make a substantial difference in terms of banks’ impact on the community is a combination of collaboration and leadership, said Taylor. He supports the idea of banks leading the charge on the creation of a comprehensive redevelopment and reinvestment plan for the East Side, and then investing accordingly and collaboratively through their charitable foundations.
“All of them have these foundations,” Taylor said. “You can either spend that money in a strategic and intentional way designed to develop a community for the existing population, or you can spend that money alone in piecemeal, siloed, sectorial fashion that will look good on an annual report, but won’t generate transformational and generational changes inside a community.”
Banks might be incentivized to work together because it could mean two things for them, according to Taylor: First, they’d have an opportunity to spend money in a way that would have maximum impact on the East Side, and second, if done right, the city and the banks could become a model of the way to create high levels of diversity, equity and inclusion in an urban area.
“If you prove how to do that, all that does is open up other markets of consumption all over the country because people want to figure out how to do that same thing,” Taylor said.
Some of that is already happening, at least on a bank-by-bank case, said KeyBank’s Owunwanne. Through the KeyBank Foundation, the company is able to leverage different relationships that connect nonprofits to other entities and corporations that can provide help.
“I see this as an opportunity for us to make not just incremental changes, but monumental changes … as part of a larger group,” Owunwanne said “Again, I say that not to absolve the bank of any responsibility, but just as a larger group.”
Downstairs from Parker’s office, Golden Cup Coffee, a roastery and cafe run by a husband and wife team, and some other Jefferson Avenue businesses are trying to build up a business association for existing and potential Jefferson-area businesses. Parker imagined what the group could accomplish if one of the banks could provide someone on a part-time basis to facilitate conversations, provide administrative support and coordinate marketing efforts.
“In the grand scheme of things, when we’re talking about a multimillion dollar [bank], a part-time employee specifically dedicated to relationship-building and building out coalitions, it sounds like a small thing,” Parker said. “But that’s transformational.”
While enjoying my daily scroll, I encountered a question, “What conspiracy theory do you secretly believe but would never admit to your family or friends?” Here are the top-voted responses. To clarify, these are not documented facts but exciting reads.
1. Smartphones Are Always Listening and Watching
“My Smartphone watches and listens to me more than just ‘How would you rate your experience at The Cheesecake Factory?’ When it was off and in my pocket the entire meal,” said one. “I secretly believe it’s always on, always listening, and with constant monitoring.”
“As a related side note, I welcome the emergent AI Overseer that will be revealed in 10 years. My conscience is clear. I also love how the word conscience is a contraction of conscience.” Finally, another joked, “My phone listens to me better than my husband!”
2. Social Engineering Is Real
“That from television to the music industry, we are constantly socially engineered by the content we consume,” one person volunteered. “It’s called social conditioning. Read Musical Truths by Mark Devlin. That exposes the musical side of it.”
3. Aliens Are Real
“Aliens are real. I’m 100 percent certain some life exists in the universe, given the unfathomable size of it all. And I’m nearly 100 percent sure intelligent life exists. Whether they are within our range and live simultaneously is questionable.”
“But I will say there’s a non-zero chance the government knows something,” one responded. Another quoted, “Arthur C. Clarke. Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe, or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.”
4. Keeping College Unaffordable for Military Recruitment in America
“That America keeps college unaffordable to recruit people into the military. Or if not actively keeping it high priced, doing nothing to keep the prices down.”
“For example, if college became affordable, like in a modern-day European country, the army would lose more than half its soldiers,” someone replied. “One of the primary opponents of Biden’s loan forgiveness plan WAS the U.S. military for this exact reason, right?”
5. Big Salmonella in Collusion With Big Lettuce
“They report a salmonella or E-coli outbreak in romaine lettuce every time they have an abundance of iceberg lettuce and not enough romaine to get people to buy the other kind,” someone shared. Another joked, “Big Farma.”
6. Very Wealthy People Are Psychopaths
“Those VERY wealthy people, particularly politicians, are psychopaths that do terrible things that would send chills down your spine, for fun,” one answered.
“Having gross amounts of money and power gets boring eventually. And people that relentlessly pursue obscene wealth and power already exhibit psychopathic tendencies. Power corrupts. There are some Harvey Weinstein, and Jeffrey Epstein types out worldwide.”
7. Fishy News
“I think it’s fishy beyond belief that after the Occupy Wall Street movement, there was a MASSIVE increase in reports on gender vs. gender and race vs. race issues in all vital newspapers. It’s VERY convenient for the 1% that the plebs are fighting themselves instead.”
“I don’t think there are no issues with racism or sexism. It’s good that we’re talking about it. But it appears that the most significant media outlets don’t want us to talk about it. Instead, they want us to fight each other.”
8. Mark Zuckerberg Is Playing The Long Game
One person replied, “Mark Zuckerberg knows what he is doing and is playing a very long game. I think Meta and the Metaverse seem like such a detached conceit because he isn’t catering to the older generations with this shot anymore.”
“The Metaverse is for the six-year-olds with tablets right now. Mark wants them to grow up in his universe. They are the demographic that cares about graphics right now. But they will as they age, and Meta’s goal is probably to keep up with that. Create a whole generation wholly consumed in it.”
“It is a better bet than trying to cater to the older cynical people who have grown up with internet/Facebook 1.0 and can’t ever get an engrained feel for the next-gen form of connectedness.”
9. Celebrity Kid Names
Someone volunteered, “Celebrities name their kids’ crazy things, so they don’t release their real names to the public and paparazzi.” Someone added, “God, I hope that one is true.”
10. The Car Companies Colluded
“Car companies colluded to discontinue their small and affordable cars in America. It happened *very* rapidly, within a two-to-three-year span. Except for Mitsubishi,” someone said. Another shared, “I worked for one of the big three in the ’90s and ’00s.”
“They were constantly looking for ways to make small passenger cars profitable. It was part of my job. But the company I worked for couldn’t profit from small cars. But they made bank on trucks and SUVs. But I can tell you we lost money on most small cars.”
“So we kept assuming small cars were like a gateway for larger, profitable vehicles. But eventually, that made less and less marketing sense. If you don’t believe me, this was written about extensively in the automotive press in the early 00s.”
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In our latest real estate tech entrepreneur interview, we’re speaking with Garret Flower from ParkOffice.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Garret Flower, I’m the co-founder and CEO of ParkOffice – the parking software for smart offices. I’ve been an entrepreneur for almost as long as I can remember. I started my first business at 15 and have progressively been getting more and more ambitious ever since.
Currently I split my time between New York City and Dublin where I’m managing the rapid growth of ParkOffice in both Europe and the US. We started out a couple of years ago with ParkOffice with a very simple concept – employee parking was broken and we wanted to fix it.
Our progress in such a short space of time has been really energising, we’ve developed an industry leading product which is trusted by 6 Fortune 500s and countless SMEs in 13 countries across the globe.
What problem does your product/service solve?
Office parking is dysfunctional on so many levels.
The end experience is often incredibly frustrating as employees arrive at offices to find parking lots unexpectedly full or worse, they pay for parking off-site and walk to the office through a half-empty car park.
The management experience isn’t much better, facilities managers often complain that managing parking is the most time intensive part of their job and that no matter how hard you try you will still be inundated with complaints from disgruntled employees.
From a community perspective, according to research from UCLA, every time someone sits into a car and doesn’t know if they have a space at work or not, they will spend an extra 800m cruising at their destination looking for somewhere to park. This causes massive traffic issues in neighbourhoods close to large offices.
ParkOffice gives a fully automated solution which allows companies to solve all these problems while also reducing costs and carbon emissions in the process.
What are you most excited about right now?
When you look at the figures there is almost as much space in the USA dedicated to office parking as there is to office buildings. However, in most cases, it is a massively under-utilized piece of real estate.
The average company who believes they don’t have enough parking space actually have up to 40% of their parking spaces empty during the working day. This is often caused by people working from home, being off-site at meetings or being on holidays. What a waste of space and money.
In a world where our cities are running out of space, I’m incredibly excited about how technology can be used to park cars more effectively, freeing up whole swathes of space for cities across the world to grow.
We’ve just adapted our product to tackle the issues surrounding COVID-19. Over recent years our key focus has been on supporting companies to reduce their employees car dependency.
With COVID-19 changing the business environment for companies all over the world, we knew we had to innovate to thrive. By altering our product slightly we can now help companies return to the office safely sooner. With public transport a no-go area for many people who are worried about the virus, employee parking is going to be under greater pressure than ever. Our automated solution can monitor parking availability in real-time and assign spaces to those in most need – think of it like hot-desking but for parking spaces. The beauty is that we can increase parking availability by up to 40% for companies.
What’s next for you?
The USA is a massive focus for us – we’ve been lucky to pick up a few big clients over there but we’re opening up a full-time office over there in the next 6 months to accelerate our growth.
What’s a cause you’re passionate about and why?
Racism really angers me. I feel strongly that all people were created equal, and this world is unfortunately structured in a way which disadvantages swathes of people because of their gender and race. As half-American, half-Irish, I’m acutely aware of the disadvantages many of my ancestors had to overcome to lay the foundations for me to thrive. I’m always looking for ways in which I can pave a path for minorities to lay the way for their communities to flourish. It is my job as a CEO and a leader of ParkOffice to encourage an environment of inclusion to learn how to implement policies that will correct this inequality.
Thanks to Garret for sharing his story. If you’d like to connect, find him on LinkedIn here.
We’re constantly looking for great real estate tech entrepreneurs to feature. If that’s you, please read this post — then drop me a line (drew @ geekestatelabs dot com).
Wells Fargo has been sued in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas by a group of current and former staffers from the company’s bilingual mortgage sales team alleging race-based discrimination. This is according to original reporting by Bloomberg and court documents reviewed by HousingWire.
“Wells Fargo forces its employees on the Bilingual team to offer predatory lending options to Spanish-speaking customers,” the initial legal complaint reads. “For example, Wells Fargo has developed an ‘Earn the Business’ program for the Bilingual team. In the fall of 2022, management created a mandatory Bilingual team program whereby employees were instructed to offer a ‘Refinance Cash Out’ product without directly mentioning the substantial financial cost of the product to borrowers.”
The company’s management team implemented this policy, the complaint alleges, because refinancing can come with high closing costs that range between $5,000 and $10,000 dollars.
“Managers of the Bilingual team directed employees to steer customers away from Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC), which carry no closing costs, and into refinancing without disclosing the closing costs,” the complaint alleges.
Members of the bilingual team expressed concern about the policy to management, the complaint says. Their alarm was heightened due to Wells Fargo’s lack of providing Spanish-language written materials to Spanish-speaking customers, which creates a barrier to full understanding of the documents they’re asked to sign, the plaintiffs allege.
“Customers sometimes call into the Bilingual team months after closing a refinance cash out, surprised to discover they have been charged substantial closing costs,” the complaint alleges. “Nevertheless, management instructs the Bilingual team, ‘Don’t mention cash out.’ Instead, management instructed employees to build a rapport with borrowers to gain the customers’ trust.”
The complaint goes on to allege that the company has issues with “institutional racism and discrimination” that extends beyond its customers and to its employees by disallowing members of the bilingual team to participate in a pilot program introduced in late 2021 in which mortgage consultants were “guaranteed commissions regardless of their actual sales,” the complaint says.
“Despite frequent requests, Wells Fargo refused to allow the Bilingual team (which is composed entirely of Hispanic employees who are from Mexico) to join the Pilot program,” the complaint alleges. “Only members of the English-only team were permitted to join the Pilot program. Wells Fargo’s policy constituted intentional discrimination against Hispanic employees from Mexico.”
Because of their inability to join the pilot program, the complaint alleges that members of the bilingual sales team suffered a disparate financial impact particularly after higher rates generally drove mortgage business down nationally.
The suit cites previous reporting by Bloomberg showing that Wells Fargo rejected half of its Black applicants in 2020. In response to a court order to pursue private mediation, lawyers for Wells Fargo and for borrowers told a judge in June they will work with a retired federal judge’s mediation service to try to resolve lawsuits alleging widespread discrimination against Black homeowners, Bloomberg reported.
The bank, which paid a $3.7 billion fine in December over an array of violations, including mortgage lending, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.