People standing in front of a van that says "Mobile Credit Union"Photo courtesy of the Bronx Financial Access Coalition

Bronxites can now bank without setting foot in a brick-and-mortar branch. Following a national trend of bank closures that heightened during the pandemic, the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union is sending its mobile branch to the borough to help.

The bank on wheels will provide visitors an array of resources, including savings and checking accounts, loans, help with ITIN applications, and fee-free ATM use. The bank’s schedule is available via Nos Quedamos’ website.

The branch will make a stop at 863 Prospect Ave. on May 19 between 10 am and 2 pm. On May 24, the bank will visit Boricua College Plaza north of Melrose at 890 Washington Ave., between 10 am and 2 pm. The bank will also visit Morris Heights, at 45-67 W. Tremont Ave., between 10 am and 3 pm on May 26th.

The mobile bank visits are part of a planned future Bronx People’s Federal Credit Union. The initiative is backed by the Bronx Financial Access Coalition, a group of local organizations: Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association, Nos Quedamos, the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDco), and University Neighborhood Housing Program.

“We are testing locations in the Bronx for steady and convenient spots to serve our members and community partners with our trusted financial services,” the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union said in a March Facebook post.

Those who wish to know more about the service can provide their contact information through the Bronx People’s Federal Credit Union Interest Form.

The mobile bank comes amidst the decline of branches across the nation. According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, a net 2,927 bank branches closed in the U.S. last year. New York state lost a net 221 branches. According to a study by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, the New York metro area lost 13.5% of its branches, or a net 747 locations, between 2017 and 2021.

The Bronx is especially “underbanked.” According to 2019 estimates from the city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, the South Bronx neighborhood of Hunts Point, Longwood, and Melrose had the second highest percentage of households without bank accounts in the city, at 24.1%.

That amounts to 2.6 times the overall city rate of 9.4% of households without bank accounts and 4.5 times the nationwide rate of 5.4%.  Although 26 of 55 city neighborhoods had fewer banking institutions per capita than Hunts Point, Longwood and Melrose, the neighborhood’s rate of 1.8 banks or credit unions per 10,000 adults still fell short of the citywide average.

Data is not available for other South Bronx neighborhoods or for how the above numbers have changed as a result of pandemic closures.

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