Forbes: Would Postal Banking Save the Post Office?

Forbes, September 2,2020: Would Postal Banking Save the Post Office?

There are numerous reasons why someone may be unbanked or underbanked, from a lack of trust in traditional banking to an irregular income schedule. But many people simply don’t have easy access to bank branches. They may live in rural areas or neighborhoods where banks have closed branches, leaving them in what’s known as a banking desert.

Whatever the reason, being un- or underbanked can be expensive. “They’re paying more to access credit,” by paying fees to check cashers or other bank alternatives, explains Jesse Van Tol, CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.

Nearly every ZIP code in the United States is served by a post office, which adds up to more than 30,000 branches nationwide. Those branches could fill the gap for banking services that can’t be conducted online, like cash handling for small businesses, Von Tol says.

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Redlining and Neighborhood Health

Before the pandemic devastated minority communities, banks and government officials starved them of capital.

Lower-income and minority neighborhoods that were intentionally cut off from lending and investment decades ago today suffer not only from reduced wealth and greater poverty, but from lower life expectancy and higher prevalence of chronic diseases that are risk factors for poor outcomes from COVID-19, a new study shows.

The new study, from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) with researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health and the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab, compared 1930’s maps of government-sanctioned lending discrimination zones with current census and public health data.

Table of Content

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Redlining, the HOLC Maps and Segregation
  • Segregation, Public Health and COVID-19
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
  • Citations
  • Appendix

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