CHICAGO–Illinois state treasurer candidate, Mike Frerichs, says he is concerned with banking deserts, an issue most prevalent in communities of color.
According to a 2011 report from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the percent of Illinois communities with inadequate banking services grew from 2009 to 2011, from 20.5 percent to 25.3 percent. It is Black and Latino communities that are the most affected, with 51.1 percent of African Americans and 49.3 percent of Latinos having either no or little access to banks. Frerichs, who is a Democratic state senator and a former county auditor, said that this population is more likely to be targeted by predatory lenders.
On Oct. 15, he visited the South Side of Chicago, where he and State Rep. Ken Dunkin (D-5), Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-7), Ald. Will Burns, State Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-26th) and community leaders held a press conference about this dire issue.
“If you look throughout the state, half of all Blacks and Latinos live in a banking desert, he told The Chicago Defender. Some banks will say that the nature of banking is changing and in light of the recession they had to make changes.”
He said if he’s elected, that’s an issue he will address by working closely with faith leaders, community leaders and organizations like the Citizen Action Illinois. His plan is to work groups such as the National Black Wall Street Chicago, whose mission is to advocate for economic develop in Black communities.
Bringing back more neighborhood banks is his goal.
“[They] are essential to save for a home or to go to college, starting a business or saving for retirement. But a checking account through your local bank is critical to renting an apartment or moving up the career ladder because prospective employers or landlords also check your credit history,” Frerichs said. “As Treasurer, I will work with banks and community leaders to make sure our banks are fulfilling their commitment to serve every community.”
Also, on Frerichs’ list is financial literacy, something he said is crucial, especially in low-income communities. He wants to educate the public on the importance of saving and investing, engage them in opening saving and checking accounts and enforce standards that encourage banks to serve banking desserts. Expanding banks in those areas will help with that problem.
“Trying to teach them about saving in a community without a bank is like trying to teach someone to read without books,” he said.
Unfortunately, the Treasurer’s office has been focused on politics instead of doing its job under Dan Rutherford. That will change under my leadership.”
Frerichs is running against Republican candidate Tom Cross, an attorney and former House minority leader from Oswego.