2012-08-03 / Columnists

It’s My Turn

My Concerns With Capital One Bank
By Floyd Smith III

My name is Floyd Smith III and I am the executive director of Concerned Citizens for the Rockaways. My current concern is with Capital One Bank. It all started in December 2004, when I received a piece of junk mail. When I opened it, it said that North Fork Bank was closing its local branch at Seagirt Boulevard and Beach 20 Street on April 1, 2005 (April Fool’s Day). I immediately started to organize my community and contact local politicians. I knew this decision would not be a good thing for the community, and most agreed.

The local bank branch, which is now owned by Capital One, is a very essential part of this community, which includes more than 5,000 senior citizens, many of whom are not as mobile as the rest of the community. I also learned through documents from NEDAP that the bank has a legal responsibility to serve all low-income communities equitably.

Capital One might argue that our income levels and our lack of commercial activity do not create enough viable business for them, but the Community Reinvestment Act was created to make sure low-income communities have fair access to bank services, loans and investments.

After organizing a petition drive and several meetings with bank executives it was finally resolved with the bank that the branch would remain open three days a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays). This agreement was with a caveat that we would take a “wait and see” attitude as to whether this would be sufficient for the convenience and needs of our community. After several years it has been determined that this has not worked out.  There are still not enough days due to weekday holidays  There is much difficulty with communication because of language barriers

On Monday, June 11, 2012, I met with executives from Capital One to express these concerns. At that meeting, it was mutually agreed upon that our community’s requests for more days and hours and better language services were reasonable and the executive said they would relay our concerns to the higher ups for their approval.

While I was away on a trip to South Carolina on June 30, 2012, I was advised that our request was going to be acknowledged and accepted with a letter from the bank. However, when the letter arrived, it was clear that not all of our requests were met. I was totally disappointed and so is my community of 5,000+ seniors.

In closing let me say we are aware that banks are capitalist entities and as such are in business to make money. However, federal legislation dictates that banks equitably serve all communities including low to moderate income neighborhoods. When does a bank like Capital One start to feel that their charter to serve the community should not be followed?

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