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Forest Hills Times - Take It to the Bank, Just Not in Queens

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Since 2006, Manhattan has added a whopping 73 banks, but Queens gained just 37, according to a report by Congressman Anthony Weiner.

Weiner said the disparity has hurt small businesses and individuals in the city's largest borough, especially in neighborhoods like East Elmhurst and Hollis that have no banks at all, according to the study.

"Neighborhoods in Queens are being squeezed out of the benefit a local bank can provide," Weiner said at a press conference in front of the Ridgewood Savings Bank branch in Forest Hills.

In what shouldn't come as a surprise, his data shows that the more affluent a neighborhood is, the more likely it is to have numerous banks.

Nearly 70 percent of the 191 banks added citywide over the past five years have come in neighborhoods with median household incomes above $40,000.

Forest Hills, for example, has 39 banks, to go along with a median household income of $64,000; Bayside, another upscale neighborhood, has 17 banks and a median household income of $60,000.

In comparison, low-income neighborhoods like Corona ($36,000) and Far Rockaway ($30,000) have just three and four banks, respectively. (There are exceptions to the rule: Ridgewood, listed as the fifth poorest neighborhood in Queens, nonetheless has 16 banks).

To fix the problem, Weiner proposed a program that would incentivize banks to offer more services for low-income customers, and penalties for banks that receive poor ratings with stiffer fines.

"We need better incentives and a stronger regulatory authority to increase the presence of banks in neighborhoods that need them the most," Weiner said.

Read more: Forest Hills Times - Take it to the bank just not in Queens

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