Data Analysis: Glaring Loan Disparities Bolster Calls for Rochester Public Bank

Data Analysis: Glaring Loan Disparities Bolster Calls for Rochester Public Bank

Andy Morrison,
Melissa Marquez,



Today, the NYS Community Equity Agenda coalition released a striking analysis and map of home mortgage data in Monroe County, revealing severe racial disparities and continued redlining. The findings highlight the urgent need for the Bank of Rochester Act, a bill currently under consideration in the state legislature. Sponsored by state Senator Samra Brouk and Assemblyman Harry Bronson, the bill would authorize the establishment of a municipal public bank in Rochester – the first full-fledged public bank in the U.S. in over a century.

Public banks are created by governments and chartered to serve the public interest. They hold public deposits and partner with responsible lenders to expand access to affordable loans and financial services in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. Through these partnerships, a public bank will support equitable economic development in Rochester and Monroe County, say advocates, and provide immediate benefits to everyday New Yorkers – increasing the supply of affordable housing, funding mortgages for first-time home buyers, fostering the creation and expansion of small businesses that generate good jobs, and more.

The coalition’s analysis, led by New Economy Project, found:

  • In Monroe County in 2022 (the most recently available data), banks and other lenders originated just five cents in mortgage loans in communities of color for every dollar they originated in majority-white neighborhoods. 
  • In total, banks and other lenders originated $1.63 billion in mortgage loans in majority-white communities. In contrast, they originated just 5.4% of their total loan volume, or $93 million, in communities of color. In Monroe County, more than 20 percent of residents live in communities of color.

The coalition’s findings echo the New York Attorney General’s 2023 report on racial disparities in homeownership, which noted particularly egregious disparities in Rochester. The report found, for example, that bank branches in Rochester were located almost exclusively in majority white neighborhoods; that Black applicants applying for home purchase loans were 68 percent more likely to be denied than white applicants with the same applicant characteristics; and that banks denied home purchase loans to applicants from communities of color at nearly double the rate of applicants with similar characteristics from majority white communities.

A Rochester public bank, the coalition stressed, would expand fair lending and affordable financial services by partnering with local financial institutions. It would leverage the underwriting expertise of local lenders with strong track records of success, while sharing risk and enhancing lending capabilities. This partnership model would enable local lenders to make more and larger loans – expanding equitable access to credit and strengthening the local banking sector.

For five years, New York State Community Equity Agenda, along with the Public Bank NYC and Rochester Public Banking coalitions, have generated a groundswell of support for public banking as a bold racial and economic justice initiative. A majority of NYS Senators, more than 60 NYS Assemblymembers, and 100 local elected officials representing 33 cities and counties across the state – as well as 160 community, labor, and local economic development organizations representing tens of thousands of New Yorkers – support the New York Public Banking Act, a bill that would create a regulatory framework for local governments in New York to establish public banks. 

Unified support for public banking from Mayor Malik Evans, the Rochester City Council, and the state legislative delegation paved the way for the Bank of Rochester Act, which largely adopts the framework set by the New York Public Banking Act. 

The banking lobby is now pulling out all the stops to obstruct passage of the Bank of Rochester Act, claiming that the private banking sector is doing enough to serve communities of color – an assertion that is flatly rejected by the findings of this analysis.

“The Bank of Rochester Act is exactly the kind of bold action that is needed to address entrenched racial inequities in our financial system and economy,” said Andy Morrison, associate director of New Economy Project, which coordinates the NYS Community Equity Agenda and conducted the mortgage lending analysis on behalf of the coalition. “This bill would establish the strongest public banking framework in the country, laying a solid foundation for the Bank of Rochester’s long-term success. The legislature must pass the Bank of Rochester Act this session.” 

“For over 40 years, Genesee Co-op Federal Credit Union has provided affordable, quality financial services to communities redlined by traditional banks. A public bank will enable local financial institutions like ours to grow and serve Rochesterians at the scale needed to truly create thriving communities,” said Melissa Marquez, Chief Executive Officer of Genesee Co-op Federal Credit Union. “As members of the Rochester Public Banking Coalition, we are proud to lead the charge alongside the NYS Community Equity Agenda and Public Bank NYC to make public banking a reality in New York State.”

Methodology: New Economy Project’s analysis examined first-lien, conventional home purchase and refinance loans for owner-occupied, 1-4 family, site built homes. Communities of color are defined as census tracts where less than 50% of residents identify as non-Hispanic whites.

Sources: Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data (2022); U.S. Census, American Community Survey (2022).