Community fights to save neighborhood bank
by Natasha Tyrrell
Jul 09, 2014 | 461 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Even more so than most businesses, residents rely on their neighborhood banks. So when Asim Deen found out his local Hollis Capital One branch at 204-12 Hillside Ave. was going to shut down, he took action.

“When it comes to institutions like these, we cannot afford to lose [them],” Deem said. “Banks, and maybe other businesses, but mostly the banks, they attract a lot of people into these neighborhoods. And when they come and set up shop, and take our money and move out, it has caused the community a great inconvenience. Now we have to travel a great deal to do our business.”

After collecting over 200 signatures and presenting them to the bank, Capital One responded that the law only requires them to give a 90-day notice of closure, which they were providing.

The current law requires federally chartered banks, like this particular Capital One branch, to provide an advanced notice to not only an appropriate federal agency, but also its customers. In comparison, state-charted banks are held to a much higher standard when closing branches.

State Senator Tony Avella is backing Deem’s petition, and said recently, “Banks should not be allowed to reap the financial benefit from the local neighborhood and then when it suits them, just pick up and go.”

Avella has proposed new legislation that would require federally chartered banks to provide earlier notice to the Department of Financial Services (DFS), as well. The DSF would have to complete a review on the bank’s reasons for uprooting, and the financial impact it will have on their customers and the community.

Having a local branch is not only about convenience for residents like Deem. Local banks can boost the economy of districts surrounding their locations, and it wasn’t long ago that Hollis was in desperate need of that boost.

“When I moved into this neighborhood 24 years ago, it was in such a dilapidated state. We got together with the local police department, sanitation department and worked tirelessly day and night to revive this community,” Deem said. “As the years go by, we see more progress in the neighborhoods, businesses opening up, people are buying more homes, the community has grown from one extreme to the better, much better.”

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