Philadelphia could become the first city in the country to have a public bank

City Council is considering creating a government-owned bank to help Black and brown business owners

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia City Council will consider establishing a public bank, under legislation introduced Thursday.

Councilmember Derek Green has been pitching the idea of a public bank since he joined council six years ago.

He proposed an institution that would provide letters of credit and other products to business and organizations that have difficulty getting conventional loans.

Green said it would bring equity to an economy where just 10% of businesses with employees have Black or Hispanic owners.

"The fact that these businesses are not able to grow and hire more employees is tied to their lack of access to credit, and that is something the public bank will help to address," said Green.

"Only 6% of the businesses with employees are owned by African-Americans. Only 4% are owned by people from the LatinX diaspora."

The bill now goes to committee for hearings.

Council will also consider two bills proposed by Council President Darrell Clarke that will require council members with a financial interest in legislation to declare their conflict and recuse themselves within five days of a bill being introduced.

He emphasized this is not a response to Councilmember Bobby Henon’s recent bribery conviction, but about hidden conflicts.

"The process that we currently have needs to be strengthened somewhat as it pertains to recusals," said Clarke.

Clarke said he wants to prevent cases where members do not disclose their interest in a bill until after participating in hearings or other action.

Council passed a bill aimed at protecting families who lose property through a problem known as tangled titles.

Councilmember Kathy Gilmore Richardson’s bill would require funeral homes to provide families with information about probate rules and legal assistance to secure ownership of deceased relatives’ homes.

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