01/31/2010 - It is difficult to walk very far in Manhattan without passing a bank branch or two, as well as someone sighing that, thanks to the banks, every street now looks the same.
But some parts of the city are nothing like that, and Van Nest, in the Bronx, is such a place. In the one-square-mile neighborhood between Morris Park and the Bronx River Parkway, Chase and Citibank do not compete on every block — or any block, for that matter.
Over the last decade, the number of bank branches across the city has soared, with new locations opening in wealthy and poor neighborhoods alike, offering access to savings accounts and credit that experts say can help alleviate poverty. In many areas, the problem is not that there are too few banks, but that many people do not use the banks that are there.
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Van Nest is not the only neighborhood with too few banks. In a 2008 study, researchers with The Pew Charitable Trusts found large areas of the central and South Bronx where check-cashing stores far outnumbered bank branches. They also identified similar areas on Staten Island, but residents there are much more likely to own a vehicle than those who live in the Bronx, making it easier to travel outside their communities.
Read the full article In a Slice of the Bronx, No Banks in Sight, for Now on the New York Times' Web site.
Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information visit the Safe Banking Opportunities Project on PewHealth.org.