The New York Credit Union Association plans to closely examine Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to expand access to financial services in New York state. The proposal is among the governor’s 2020 priorities, announced over the weekend as part of his “2020 State of the State” agenda.
The proposed Excelsior Banking Network, which would aim to increase access to “safe, affordable bank accounts and small-dollar loans in underserved low-income communities across the State,” would provide the state’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund with $25 million in seed funding for five years and “expand financial inclusion and access to affordable bank accounts and credit products,” according to the press release announcing the proposal. Participating CDFIs will leverage this funding to an aggregate of $300 million in targeted investment in underserved New York communities. The Cuomo administration said the network will also engage in outreach and financial literacy education to the unbanked as well as expand microcredit available to MWBEs and other small businesses.
Cuomo cited “banking deserts” and the lack of accessible banking facilities in certain communities, where individuals are often faced with utilizing high-cost check-cashing options.
The governor’s proposal would also create a statewide Office of Financial Inclusion and Empowerment, which he says would meet the financial services needs of low- and middle-income New Yorkers. “There is currently no single-stop state resource where New Yorkers anywhere in the state can find help for their financial access and empowerment needs,” Cuomo said in the release.
The new office would be tasked with maintaining a list of financial services counseling providers in the areas of housing, student loan, debt and general financial literacy across the state, and coordinate services in an effort to expand access to credit and enhance financial “empowerment.” Cuomo said the new office will also “incubate new programs to expand access to safe and affordable banking services, credit and financial education; coordinate public-private partnerships; and foster provision of high-quality, low-cost financial products statewide.”
The Association will be closely monitoring these financial proposals and studying their potential impacts on New York state credit unions.