Brentwood to be home to LI's first Banking Development District

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, seen here in a

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, seen here in a July 18, 2013 photo, is pressing for a state law that would base 20 percent of a teacher's or principal's evaluation on student achievements on standardized tests. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

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Long Island's first Banking Development District will find its home in Brentwood now that a co-application from the Town of Islip and a local banking branch has been approved by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The district has been formed around the existing New York Community Bank branch in the Pathmark shopping center on Wicks Road in Brentwood.

Banks within these zones -- there are 18 others throughout the state -- are given financial incentives, such as subsidized deposits for state funds, and are equipped to provide financial education services to area residents and workshops for small businesses.

Residents who use banks within the zone -- which is bounded by the Long Island Expressway to the north, Washington Avenue to the east, Suffolk Avenue to the south and the Suffolk County Community College campus to the west -- will now be able to have checking accounts with no minimum balance and savings accounts that can be opened with as little as $1.

The program began in 1997 with a state law aimed at helping communities underserved by banks.

Islip town officials applied for the designation after being approached by New York Community Bank last year. Brentwood, with its high-density population, has fewer banks per capita than surrounding neighborhoods in Suffolk County, making it an attractive candidate for the program, according to a spokesman for the state Department of Financial Services.

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More than 60,000 people reside in Brentwood, according to the latest U.S. Census data, with nearly 69 percent of them identifying as Hispanic or Latino. The per capita income in Brentwood, at $20,704, is considerably less than the state average at $32,104.

Almost 9 percent of the 11-square-mile hamlet's population, or 5,400 residents, live below the poverty line.

Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of financial services for the state Department of Financial Services, said the program will allow Brentwood residents to "build secure financial futures."

"Unbanked New Yorkers often find themselves relying on check cashers or predatory payday lenders, which can take a big bite out of their paychecks," Lawsky said.

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