Since the 1970s, National People’s Action (NPA) has worked “to advance a national economic and racial justice agenda.” More than 200 organizers in the organization’s network strive to unite people across the United States and hold financial institutions responsible with regard to the people and communities they serve.
The country is currently experiencing its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Citizens face rising foreclosures, diminishing pensions, rampant unemployment and other economic problems. “This crisis is largely on the backs of ordinary Americans who were buying homes, wanting their piece of the American dream, and were given exotic loans. It was irresponsible lending by the banks,” says NPA Development Director Jeff Pinzino.
A general lack of response from the banks and the national government since the crisis began is also greatly contributing to the fallout, and the people who suffered most as a result of the recession are receiving the least aid. Pinzino says, “It really is a situation where banks are profiting at the expense of ordinary Americans, especially after public intervention through the bank bailout. Banks needs to step up, pay their fair share and help clean up the mess that they have caused in communities across America.”
With its campaign, Showdown in America, NPA is challenging banks to help get the economy back on track, challenging Congress to stand with the people and challenging Americans to speak up about their plight. The initiative calls on banks to “fix the foreclosure crisis, invest responsibly and sustainably in communities to create jobs, stop bankrupting taxpayers and communities, end discriminatory lending practices and provide workplace protections to employees.”
“It’s time for the public to hold banks accountable. It is not worth continuing to let these super-rich Wall Street executives profit at the expense of the American people and the homeowners that really are the backbone of our society,” Pinzino says.
NPA is taking on such issues through repeated demonstrations, call-in days and extensive work with attorneys general across the country. The organization is also taking part of an online initiative, Make Wall Street Pay, in which individuals can send Wall Street executives the bill for their foreclosed home.
The country’s financial situation is expected to get worse before it improves, and NPA and its organizers are preparing for the long haul, encouraging people everywhere to join their efforts. “We believe there’s an urgency around these issues that will only intensify. If we’re serious about solving the problems in front of us, it’s going to take a movement. It’s going to take action from people across America who will stand with us and fight,” says Pinzino.
This Member Spotlight was written by Meredith Brodbeck, communications associate at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP).