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Remarks by Ricki Heifer Chairman Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation before Neighborhood Housing Services o f N ew Y ork City, Inc. New York, NY November 7, 1995 W e are here tonight because the word “community” has resonance for all o f us. I believe that the finest description o f what community means comes to us from John W inthrop’s justly famous sermon calling on his seven hundred or so fellow emigrants to create a “city on a hill” in the new world to which they were sailing. I will not talk about a “city on a hill” tonight. We have heard that phrase quoted too much and often out o f context in recent years. It is earlier in the sermon where Winthrop sets out clearly and eloquently the ideals o f community. Sailing on the ship Arbella in 1630, half way across the Atlantic Ocean between England and Massachusetts, Winthrop called the passengers together. Among the things he said to them were these words: “We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality. We must delight in each other, make other’s conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labour and suffer together, always have before our eyes our community . . . So shall we keep the unity o f the spirit in the bond o f peace.” And Winthrop warned: “particular estates cannot subsist in the ruin o f the public” -- or to translate that sentiment from early 18th century English into late 20th century American: The welfare o f the individual rests upon the welfare o f the community — if the community does not prosper, the individual cannot prosper, either. To paraphrase one o f Winthrop’s contemporaries, none o f us is an island. I learned the meaning o f community growing up in Smyrna and Murfreesboro, Tennessee, two small towns south o f Nashville, in the 1950s and 1960s. Smyrna had a population o f about 5,000; Murfreesboro, about 20,000. They were filled with real people -- not stereotypes. No one who lived in tow n was a stranger. We may have been in different boats, but we all knew that we were afloat on the same lake. 1 I went to college at Vanderbilt University in Nashville -- on scholarship. I ’ll never forget that one time when I was in college our banker in Smyrna called my mother to tell her that my checking account had fallen below $25 and that she might want to put some more money into my account because I might need it. N ow we were not important customers o f the bank -- far from it. The bank had no large customers and my family would not even have met its median. But the banker was watching out for me. That was the kind o f community in which I lived. My experience was not unique, I am sure. I f you visit small towns around the country it will strike you visually how central the bank is to the community. Again and again and again, you see the same pattern in the town square: a house o f worship, school, and bank. Upstate N ew York. There are nearly 400 banks in Georgia alone — most o f them in small towns. In the Midwest, you find a small tow n about every twenty miles -- the distance o f one day’s travel on a horse. In each o f those towns the same pattern: a house o f worship, school, and bank ~ all preparing the community for a better future, if in different ways. In those small towns in which I grew up, I witnessed the contribution that banks can make to strengthening the community —particularly where they work hand-in-hand with local leaders. In small towns — and in large ones, too —bankers make things happen. By things, I mean growth, development and prosperity. I have lived in big cities -- Chicago and Washington, D.C. As a volunteer tutor in the D.C. public schools, I saw the difference that stability and security can make in the lives o f children — and the mark that instability and insecurity make on their lives, as well. N o one appreciates the uniqueness o f N ew York City better than NHS — and no one appreciates its unique community needs more. Since its creation, NHS o f New York City has assisted more than 38,000 city residents. It has rehabilitated almost 3,000 units, conducted nearly 1,000 home-maintenance workshops, and made some 20,000 home inspections. Financially, it has packaged or referred about $89 million in government rehabilitation loans and $41 million in firstmortgage loans. And it has prompted $890 million in private and public reinvestment. It has helped make houses homes. Moreover, it has helped make neighborhoods communities. People in a neighborhood live together — people in a community work together. Working together is what NHS o f New York is all about. Just one good example o f that is Fran Justa working with the FDIC New York Regional Office in training our examiners in community development lending. The accomplishments o f NHS o f New York are there for anyone to see, but Fran tells me that the outlook for the organization is unclear. If that is true, we have a problem — not just Fran, and not just the staff and board o f NHS —all o f us. Remember that John Winthrop — who described the ideals o f community — also warned that “particular estates cannot exist in the ruin o f the public” -- that the welfare o f the individual rests upon the welfare o f the community. I for 2 one doubt that the financial center o f the world can long prosper within a community that does not prosper. Encouraging and promoting neighborhood self-reliance and educating people to help themselves are among the many things that NHS o f New York does — and does well. W ithout NHS o f N ew York, this city would be a poorer place — and not just in material terms. W e are here tonight to acknowledge the achievements o f three people who have worked hard to support community development -- Larry Lindsey, governor o f the Federal Reserve Board; John Tamberlane, president o f the Republic Bank for Savings, and Deborah Wright, commissioner o f the New York City Department o f Housing, Preservation and Development. The word community certainly has a resonance for them. I am honored to have been asked to speak on an evening when they are being recognized for their commitment to community. And I am especially pleased to be here to applaud the many achievements o f Neighborhood Housing Services o f N ew York City and to express the hope that it will continue to serve this community well into the future. New York City is not literally the proverbial city on a hill —but the eyes o f the world are upon it. Let us hope the vision is rewarding. 3