Wells Fargo Bank has had its share of woes recently. Last year, it came to light that Wells Fargo solicited both standing and prospective customers to open up “fake” and/or unnecessary accounts that they never requested. Former Wells Fargo employees revealed to the press that the bank’s employee practices were questionable at best as employees were driven to meet unrealistic quotas of new accounts. If and/or when employees failed to reach those quotas, they experienced the consequences of career ending reviews in their personnel files. Such employee practices and quota systems were not isolated to one or two or even three local branches; these were practices and systems put into place nationally throughout most, if not all, of the bank’s branches.
Recently, residents in Newark, New Jersey’s West Ward are adding to Wells Fargo’s woes on a local level. Organizing under the umbrella of New Jersey Communities United, local Orange residents are implementing clean-up campaigns directed at foreclosed upon and/or vacant homes owned by Wells Fargo that are considered to have highly negative if not dangerous impacts on their community. Mounting piles of trash, unlawful activities, structural concerns are just some of the concerns being voiced about these abandoned, yet bank owned homes.
Trina Scordo, Executive Director of the New Jersey Communities United organization says that “…the blight they’ve (Wells Fargo) created in the community life of the West Ward is real and it is dangerous. The piles of garbage are a health issue. The structural issues of some of the vacant buildings pose life and death situations for residents of all ages. Wells Fargo is perpetuating crimes against working class communities of color like Orange and they are going unpunished. We are not willing to allow Wells Fargo to profit by creating the next housing bubble while communities like ours continue to suffer and struggle. We are not waiting for some outside entity to solve these problems. Our members know what is needed and our members are ready to take control of our neighborhood.”
Wells Fargo has not responded to statements made by Ms. Scordo or anyone else who is a West Ward resident and/or a member of New Jersey Communities United.
Such organizing actions to remediate local neighborhoods are not singular in their efforts. A national divestment movement has taken root. The East Orange City Council in New Jersey has voted to sever relations and divest all city funds from Wells Fargo bank.