Planning Commissioner Sean Mill prompts Santa Ana to embrace banking program for under-served residents

Matricular Consular Card

If this is your only type of I.D., good luck opening a bank account in Santa Ana – until now!

Most of us take banks and banking for granted.  Many of us have had bank accounts since we were kids.  But for thousands of Orange County residents, opening a bank account is not so easy.  Here in Santa Ana, where I live, many residents are unable to open bank accounts because the only I.D. they have is their matricular consular cards.  In fact this came up on Monday night, at the Santa Ana Planning Commission meeting.

Sean Mill fought for a local business that wanted to offer check cashing.  Of course the Usual Suspects were up in arms – and the city staffers were not too helpful.  So Mill did the research and he pointed out that most of the folks in the market area has no other options.  Mill called the local banks and they said they would not accept their I.D. cards.

Mill pointed out that Santa Ana is the ONLY city around that has not yet embraced Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Bank on California” campaign, which was launched last December with the goal of helping under-served communities to open bank accounts.

Well, what do you know.  Today I got an email from the City of Santa Ana announcing that Mayor Miguel Pulido is now supporting this initiative.  Pulido announced this in a letter, which you can access by clicking here.

Pulido announced a public briefing about what he is calling “Bank on Santa Ana.”  The event will be held at the Santa Ana Police Department’s Community Room on Thursday, Sep. 10, from 1 to 3 pm.  I don’t think that is a good place to hold this meeting, but kudos to Pulido for finally waking up and embracing this program six months after it began.

Apparently the meeting will be attended by representatives of Gov. Schwarzenegger and other community based organizations.  Since the meeting is during the workday I don’t expect any residents to be there, but at least the city is trying – thanks to Mill.

The city email message also provided further background regarding this program:

Half of all Californians do not have a savings account and one in five does not have a checking account. According the recent research conducted by the PEW Safe Banking Opportunities Project, there are 23,800 unbanked households in Santa Ana – (Profile ).

The Governor’s Office has asked Mayor Pulido to endorse the program in Santa Ana and have OCUW as one of its key partners. The program will also work in partnership with the Office of the Governor, financial institutions, financial regulatory agencies, community organizations and the Mayor. OCUW will convene partners to focus on helping unbanked Santa Ana residents open starter bank accounts and enter the financial mainstream. Financial institutions will look at improving access to bank accounts by providing no cost or low cost banking services, accepting international identification cards and providing financial literacy courses. This will enable Santa Ana residents to begin saving, protect their money, build a credit history, gain access to lower-cost sources of credit and build wealth and assets.

No wonder the Usual Suspects have been trying so hard to get Mill kicked off the Planning Commission.  He is the best advocate for working-class Latinos in the city.  It looks like he has once more succeeded in helping the community.  For this, no doubt, the Usual Suspects will renew their efforts to boot him off his Commission.  What a shame – he ought to get an award for this one!

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.