BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A broad coalition of community leaders gathered in a vacant lot across from Buffalo’s oldest black Pentecostal church to announce the dawning of a new day on the East Side: KeyBank committing money and resources to neighborhoods that the “Buffalo Billion” has passed over.
John Washington of PUSH Buffalo said the partnership between KeyBank and the Buffalo Community Reinvestment Coalition is would do for underserved neighborhoods what Governor Andrew Cuomo’s billion dollar investment was doing for other areas of the city.
“Building the ‘bankability’ of the East Side, services for the unbanked, helping people build their credit and build homeownership, is the greatest opportunity in Buffalo, and right now it is being ignored in favor of downtown business.”
The Community Reinvestment Coalition, forged an agreement–a Community Benefits Plan–to bring banking services to communities that have few or none, and depend on check cashing services, or other businesses that charge consumers for using their own money.
The Community Benefits Plan was forged on the heels of KeyBank’s buyout of First Niagara Bank, which is expected to lead to job losses, and branch closures, but Bruce Murphy, KeyBank’s President of Community Development Banking, insists this partnership could be a silver lining.
“Make a difference in mortgages, make a difference in Community Development loans, make a difference in our philanthropy. We have made some significant commitments.”
Officials with the Reinvestment Coalition said the Community Benefits Plan hinges on the KeyBank buyout of First Niagara, which has been met with stiff resistance. If the merger is approved, they will start putting the plan into action, as early as December or January.