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Press Release

Rep. Jeffries, Community Leaders Call on Banks to Help Houses of Worship Decimated by Superstorm Sandy

Brooklyn, NY – Today, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8), joined by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, United Community Baptist Church Pastor Connis Mobley and other community leaders, launched an effort to assist houses of worship severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy two years ago on this day. 

Rep. Jeffries, whose district includes the storm-torn neighborhood of Coney Island, strongly urged New York’s financial institutions to step up and provide low-interest loans for badly damaged houses of worship pursuant to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). Houses of worship are generally ineligible for grant assistance from the federal government due to the separation of church and state doctrine. 
“It is shameful that some houses of worship in the community that were badly damaged by the storm have not been helped two years later. There are churches, synagogues and mosques throughout the Coney Island peninsula, including the United Community Baptist Church, that remain uninhabitable or in disrepair. We cannot let this situation stand.”

Earlier today, Rep. Jeffries sent a letter to the CEOs of JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Bank of America, which states:

I write to urge you to develop a low-interest rate loan program to assist with rebuilding the houses of worship located in areas such as Coney Island that were devastated by Superstorm Sandy.  Absent substantial engagement from the banking and financial services industry in a manner consistent with the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), many houses of worship in New York City badly damaged by the storm will remain uninhabitable.

Enacted in 1977, the Community Reinvestment Act is designed to encourage financial institutions and banks to invest in underserved communities such as Coney Island. When a bank awards CRA-compliant loans to qualifying houses of worship in designated disaster areas, the financial institution will then be eligible for credit in subsequent charter, merger or acquisition proceedings before federal bank regulators. 

Rep. Jeffries concluded the letter by stating: 

The banking and financial industry in New York City collectively benefit by serving as depository institutions for government funds and as managers of pension fund investments. Two years after the devastating storm, houses of worship now need your expertise and assistance.

A copy of the letter is attached. 

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Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) represents the 8th district, including the Coney Island, Sea Gate, Brighton Beach, Canarsie and Howard Beach communities in the House of Representatives.