In August, community members rallied demanding Amalgamated Bank in the west Bronx reopen. While the bank is still shuttered, it has a plan to help the community.
On Monday night, Community Board 5 revealed it received a letter from Amalgamated Bank of 94 E. Burnside Ave. earlier this month, describing how it would do remote services at the Davidson Community Center at 2038 Davidson Ave., twice a week and teach people online banking. There would be no cash at all and it would promote this to new and current customers.
The bank promised to provide myriad services including one-on-one financial counseling through Neighborhood Trust and via online trainings for the community, CRA-related investments (grants, investments in local projects, etc.) and direct support in the community via in-person office hours at Davidson Community Center.
District 14 City Council Candidate Pierina Sanchez, a member of the Jerome Avenue Revitalization Collaborative (JARC), said JARC and CB5 met with the CEO of Amalgamated on Sept. 3 and Amalgamated made a series of commitments. They’ve since sent those in writing, and JARC and CB5 and are in the process of reviewing the letter and seeing if it matches up with their phone conversation.
“We have to keep their feet to the fire,” Sanchez said. “It’s really up to us to push them.”
According to District Manager Kenneth Brown, Amalgamated said they wanted to set up at Davidson by next week. However, that is a negotiation between Davidson and the bank. Brown said the bank pledged, on a video conference that it would maintain this service for at least a month and then evaluate the need.
She noted the closure of a bank in a community of working class people where many are on fixed incomes does not benefit the west Bronx. Gibson stressed that there needs to be more banks and fewer check cashing places.
“While I’m disappointed they decided to close the branch, I hope they use everything that happened to find a learning lesson,” she said.
Chase Bank at 5 West Burnside Ave., which has been shuttered since October 2019 due to flooding and leaks was also discussed. Sanchez said the JARC will be meeting with Chase Thursday and will ask them if and when they are reopening.
Currently, the bank is full of trash and has people sleeping there, according to community members.
“We’ll be pushing them really hard on what their plans are,” Gibson said.