Two local city Council Members are hoping to bring better banking services to their districts by creating a Banking Development District (BBD) in Richmond Hill.
Council Members Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) and Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) held a press conference at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and 104th Street on Tuesday to discuss how a BBD would help southeast Queens.
The state instituted the BBD program in 1998 to encourage banks to open in underserved areas by offering incentives such as reduced property tax levies and low cost deposits from state and municipal governments.
“The need for a BBD in Richmond Hill is great,” said Koslowitz. “The investments that a bank will bring to the community are evident in other areas where BBDs have been successful. We in government need to do all that we can to assist our hard working communities during these incredibly difficult economic times. In order to come out of this crisis in a fair manner, everyone needs to benefit, not just those who already have the means to do so.”
Since the inception of the program, 26 BBD branches have opened in the city and issued $538.9 million in loans throughout the five boroughs. The last BBD to open in Queens was in Long Island City in 2006.
“My district should have fair and equal access to banking and other financial services like the rest of the city,” said Wills. “Instead of allowing another ‘too big to fail’ financial group to blossom, it is in the best interest of the state to incentivize the process to promote economic development, home ownership and business development options in working class and lower income communities.”
Wills also noted that his district is inundated with cash checking and loan businesses where service costs are inflated and hinders local development.
“Moreover, in my district where Payday Loan and check cashing establishments are common, and service costs inflated, the introduction of this initiative will promote financial growth throughout the district where the concentration of banks is grossly deficient,” Wills said.
The push for a BBD in Richmond Hill also has support from Borough President Helen Marshall.
“BBDs provide a dramatic, economic boost to neighborhoods underserved by the banking community and become valuable resources within a short time after opening the bank door,” said Marshall. “I supported several BBDs over the years and attended the opening of the BBD bank in Long Island City some five years ago. I look forward to attending s similar opening in Richmond Hill as soon as possible.”
According to a study conducted in March, Richmond Hill currently has three banks. Nearby communities of Briarwood and Jamaica Hills have three banks. It’s a different story in other surrounding neighborhoods. South Ozone Park has 10 banks and Howard Beach has nine.