Washington, DC — In the wake of a troubling new report from SNL Financial showing major banks pulling out from low-income areas, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) has called for banking regulators to investigate the trend and take action. The SNL Financial report, entitled “Banks follow the money and exit lower-income areas,” finds that the major banks have primarily built bank branches in higher income areas since 2006, while pulling out of low- and moderate-income communities.
NCRC President and CEO John Taylor made the following statement:
“This is a highly disturbing trend. Bank branches are critical to building wealth in low-income communities. When banks divest from these communities, they are replaced with check cashers, pay day lenders and other fly-by-night outfits that charge exorbitant fees.”
“Some banks have publicly said they are closing branches in low-income communities because they can’t charge the same kind of overdraft fees anymore. If the banks are addicted to abusing poor people with high fees for revenue, then they need to kick that habit without closing branches. Branches in low-income neighborhoods can be very profitable without being abusive.”
“We’re calling on the regulators to take immediate action. The banks are abandoning low-income neighborhoods on the watch of Chairman Ben Bernanke of the Federal Reserve, Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry, and Acting Chairman Marty Gruenberg of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. This abandonment of lower-income communities likely violates numerous fair lending laws, such as the Community Reinvestment Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. We call on the Federal Reserve, the OCC, the FDIC as well as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to investigate the banks and enforce the law.”
In April, NCRC released an issue brief entitled “Why Bank Closures are Bad for Communities.” The issue brief highlighted the trend of diminishing bank branches in modest income neighborhoods and communities of color, and highlighted a series of policy remedies to rectify the problem.