U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner stood in front of the on Queens Boulevard Monday to decry an inequality of banking services in Queens and across the city.
Weiner’s office recently conducted a study of the banking industry’s expansion throughout the five boroughs, and the congressman didn’t like what he saw. While bank locations have expanded at an exponential rate in business centers throughout Manhattan, there are many Queens and Brooklyn neighborhoods that still have none.
Among the critically underserved areas of the outer boroughs, Weiner said, are Bed-Stuy’s south, East Elmhurst, and South Jamaica.
Some parts of the borough are doing quite well for themselves, however. Weiner’s study looked at the increase in bank locations through FDIC filings throughout all five boroughs, and Forest Hills, for instance, has the second most bank branches of any neighborhood in Queens, with 33. It also has three more branches in 2010 than it did in 2006. Only Flushing, with 37, has more.
Other parts of the borough are expanding, with four new branches in the Bayside area in the last four years, and two more branches in Little Neck and Douglaston.
It’s no surprise, Weiner said, that those areas with a higher median income are also better served by the finance industry.
While there are currently government programs in place to encourage banks to serve lower income communities, Weiner has created a new proposal, which he is hoping will gain some traction in Washington.
Included in this proposal are changes to the Community Reinvestment Act, including a change to a given bank’s examination ratings to account for and reward bank locations in low-income communities. The increase in services in these areas, Weiner said, will produce benefits both for the banks and the people living and working in the neighborhoods served.
“Neighborhoods in Queens are being squeezed out of the benefit a local bank can provide,” Weiner said. “We need better incentives and stronger regulatory authority to increase the presence of banks in neighborhoods that need them most. Banks can’t keep getting a freeNeighborhood Banks-2006 Banks-2010 Change Forest Hills 30 33 +3 Bayside 13 17 +4 Little Neck/Douglaston 5 7 +2 East Elmhurst 0 0 - Kew Gardens 4 5 +1 Rego Park 9 10 +1