Statistics provided by officials of the Bank On Greater Pittsburgh program indicate that Allegheny County currently has 5.9 percent, or 30,950 unbanked households and 17.4 percent or 91,277 under-banked. According to Mayor Bill Peduto, “More than 10 percent or 14,012 of Pittsburgh residents have no bank account and another 19 percent or 27,209 residents rely heavily on risky alternative financial tools such as payday loans, check-cashing shops, and rent-to-own arrangements. This represents more than 130,000 households living without financial security.”
With hopes to assist and to encourage unbanked and under-banked individuals and families to strongly consider opening bank accounts with traditional financial institutions opposed to continuing to rely on check-cashing or other alternative methods of banking, Esther L. Bush; president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, Rich Fitzgerald; Allegheny County Executive and Bill Peduto; Mayor, City of Pittsburgh last week kicked off a new initiative called Bank On Greater Pittsburgh.
Endorsed by the National League of Cities and identified by Mayor Peduto as one of the top 100 items on his agenda, BOGP is a collaborative effort of the Urban League, City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, the United Way of Allegheny County, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and nine financial institutions along with numerous community agencies. The partnership is designed to develop pathways to access basic, free or low-cost financial institution transaction accounts and financial education. “The positive impact of connecting unbanked and under-banked consumers with traditional banking services is tantamount to increased income for consumers, who will save immeasurably in fees, since these consumers will no longer be reliant on check cashing services, pre-paid debit cards and payday lenders,” indicated Howard B. Slaughter Jr. PhD, chairman of the BOGP and a seven year Urban League Board member. “Our goal is to help unbanked and under-banked individuals gain access to free, low-cost starter or “second chance” financial deposit accounts, as well as access other financial services and financial education.”