October 16, 2018

Initiative targets 'underbanked'

Michael C. Bingham
Michael C. Bingham
Mayor Toni N. Harp at Farnam Community Center Tuesday morning.

Mayor Toni N. Harp and representatives of four major banks were on hand for the kickoff of the Bank On New Haven Coalition event this morning at Farnam Community Center.

The Bank On initiative, begun in San Francisco in 2006, provides affordable financial products and services to underserved populations, typically lower-income working adults.

Begun this March, the Bank On New Haven Coalition includes financial institutions, city agencies, community organizations and community liaisons working in concert to expand banking access for hitherto un- or under-banked New Haveners.

To address previously unmet needs, Bank On Certified Accounts have been prioritized for city residents. These include Bank of America's Safe Balance Account, Chase Bank's Liquid Card, KeyBank's Hassle-Free Account and Wells Fargo Bank's Easy Pay Card.

These financial products typically include low or no monthly fees ($5 or less) and a waiver of overdraft charges. A target beneficiary of the Bank On New Haven program, according to Samantha Savvidou of the Connecticut Association of Human Services, a community partner in the program, is "a working single mother with kids to feed and bills to pay, where one overdraft fee could send her finances into a downward spiral."

"Many families don't have the presence of mind or the resources to make and keep a budget," said Harp. The purpose of launching Bank On New Haven, she added, is "to help New Haven's more vulnerable residents manage their financial future."

Contact Michael C. Bingham at mbingham@newhavenbiz.com

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