New York's Credit Carolers Sing for an End to Discrimination

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 16: New York City Democratic mayoral candidate Bill De Blasio, speaks outside New York City Hall aft
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 16: New York City Democratic mayoral candidate Bill De Blasio, speaks outside New York City Hall after mayoral hopefull Bill Thompson (not seen) conceded the Democratic party candidate position to De Blasio on September 16, 2013 in New York City. Thompson and De Blasio both hoped to win the democratic cadidate position for New York City. While De Blasio had a majority lead in the primary vote with approximately 40% of the votes, Thompson had hoped that he could force a run off between the two. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (L) also attended the speech. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

The bells were jingling on the steps of New York's City Hall this week as the tune of "Winter Wonderland" drifted up:

Mr. Mayor, are you listenin? I need a job, and I'm not quittin'

A job interview, has come into view

Walking in a jobless wonderland

I applied for the position

But they ended up dismissin'

Because of my poor credit report

Walking in a jobless wonderland...

The singing New Yorkers in Santa hats weren't kidding. From positions as dog walkers to jobs doing maintenance work, retail sales, tech support and financial posts, a wide range of jobs in the five boroughs of New York require that applicants undergo a credit check to get hired. This year, the New York Post even reported on a hot dog vendor at Madison Square Garden who was fired after just two hours on the job because a credit check revealed that she had unpaid bills. Perhaps earning money to pay her debts is a reason why she applied for the job in the first place.

Reviewing job applicants' personal credit history has never been demonstrated to produce a more honest or reliable workforce, or to reduce employee fraud of theft, yet nearly half of employers nationwide persist in checking credit as part of their hiring process. As a result, difficulty keeping up with bills has become a barrier to employment for jobseekers who are out of work, have medical debt, student loans, were victims of predatory mortgage lending or simply have errors on their credit report.  

Here's where New York's Mayor de Blasio and the City Council come in. Intro 261, sponsored by Councilmembers Brad Lander and Deborah Rose, has an overwhelming majority of support on the City Council yet has been stalled for months. As Armando Chapelliquen with the New York Public Interest Research Group noted at the City Hall event, students, advocates, workers, and community leaders are tired to waiting to see action on credit discrimination and are ready to see this bill get passed that will end credit discrimination in New York City. Or in the new words of the "Silver Bells" carolers:

Hear us sing: pass this thing!

Soon it will be Christmas Day