Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Good News for the Unbanked

Seventeen percent of our clients do not have bank accounts two years after training. Although this is slightly better than the statewide average, where one in five people are unbanked (as high as 50% of African American and Latinos), this means our clients are most likely wasting hundreds of dollars a year on check cashing fees and money orders. Predatory check cashing business are highly concentrated in low-income areas such as in the Mission District in San Francisco where our main office is located. In addition to having to pay much more for basic banking services, studies have shown that the unbanked are less likely to save and build assets.  At Women's Initiative we found out that following training, 44% more had business than they did before the program.
But there is more good news for our unbanked clients in San Francisco. The City has partnered with local bank and credit union branches to make banking accessible to all San Franciscans. Thanks to Treasurer Cisneros, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the non-profit EARN and the New America Foundation, nearly all bank and credit union branches in San Francisco have committed to offering low- or no-cost accounts to unbanked individuals, even those with a history of bounced checks. In addition, Mexican and Guatemalan Consular IDs are now being accepted as proof of identification.
Governor Schwarzenneger has announced that the program will soon include Oakland, Fresno, San Jose,and Los Angeles.
For more information on the program or opening an account

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