a customer letter dated 12/6/2013, Bank of America announced that the
Uphams Corner branch would close Friday, March 21, 2014. The BOA
letter reflects a coup-d'etat attitude toward Uphams Corner with no
consultation - no warning - in advance. It is incumbent on
members of this community to rally, to speak up, to call upon every
mechanism available to stop the "rollover" and convert this change into
an opportunity that is meaningful for the community.|
Excerpts from the Bank of America Letter
On Friday, March 21, 2014, the banking center located at 555 Columbia
Road, Dorchester, Massachusetts, will be permanently closing. Banking
services will continue to be available at the banking center located at
1104 Massachusetts Avenue, Dorchester, Massachusetts.|
Click to view full letter
How to Comment
Any person wishing to comment on this proposed banking center closing
may file comments with the Licensing Manager, Large Banks, Office of
the Comptroller of the Currency, Licensing, 250 E Street SW, Mail Stop
7-13, Washington, DC 20219. However, the agency does not have the
authority to approve or prevent the closure.
Why is the Bank Closing?
Customer Service in Dudley Square said: "It was a corporate decision
and who knows why." Bank employees were informed of the closure a
couple days before the official letters went out to customers.
Bank of America leaving Uphams Corner does not deprive our community of
a bank close by as there are at least two branches within one mile -
South Bay and Dudley Square. At the same time, as Janice, a BOA
Customer Service Rep in Uphams Corner, stated: "I feel bad because so
many of my customers are elderly."
Janice said: "Maintenance of this building is so expensive." She also
talked about renovation challenges if the bank wanted to add another
ATM. Apparently that would have triggered a lot more building upgrades
than the bank was willing to commit to.
Only last year,
Bank of America authorized painting the exterior after years of ugly
paint flaking and disrepair on the face of the building. BOA also
upgraded the carpeting on the inside. The corporation suddenly
deciding to close the branch is out of step with their prior
What Steps Can the Community Take?
The Bank of America operates many branhes in the greater Boston area.
Their current location in Uphams Corner was originally the Bank of
Boston until the merger fever scarfed that up. Within one mile are two
branches - South Bay and Dudley Square. At the same time, the Uphams
Corner community is unique and deserves its own branch.
Residents and community organizations in Uphams Corner MUST step up to
the plate and quickly address the implications of BOA closing a branch
that is so important for the community. Uphams Corner is 90% people of
color (POC), many of whom do not speak English (hispanic, Cape Verdean
and Haitian and more). Many are older and have depended on the BOA
branch for years.
Adelina Alves, Uphams Corner Health Center, asked: "Why didn't they come
to us, the community, before making their decision?" This is the right
question despite the fact that big business notoriously makes decisions that only
benefit the corporation. Bank of America is no different.
bank come to the community to address its concerns, the question might
have been answered the same way, but the likelihood is that members of
the community would have been able to discuss alternative strategies
for customers, financial support to the community and the future of the building in Uphams Corner.
Community Reinvestment Act
The Community Reinvestment Act, often referred to as the CRA, is part
of title VIII of the Housing and Community Development Act passed in
1977 and was created to reduce discriminatory credit practices against
low-income neighborhoods, practices also known as "redlining."
To be covered by the CRA, a bank must receive Federal Deposit Insurance
Corporation (FDIC) insurance, which then triggers review by Federal
banking agencies to determine if the bank offers credit in all
communities in which they are chartered to do business. While seeking
to address discrimination in loans to individuals and businesses from
low and moderate-income communities, the CRA does not promote high-risk
behavior. The institution is still expected to conduct itself in a
safe and sound manner.
The Community Must Act Now: Questioning the Bank's Decision and Overall Behavior
Clearly, the bank's decision to close is not directly related to loan
discrimination, or is it?. At the same time, CRA requirements are meant to
be flexible and to accommodate the situation and context of each
individual institution (and by, implication) the community in which the
financial institution is operating. It is incumbent upon key community
players in Uphams Corner to find a way to put a damper on the immediacy
of the proceedings to allow a more meaningful community based strategy
and plan to be put into effect.
that we are NOT dealing with a bank that has done the best for their
customers. Bank of America has had to pay large fines for
risky behavior associated with sub-prime lending, CDO's, derivatives
and many other financial mechanisms for taking advantage of financial
systems, retirement plans, people's homes and ultimately, our
While the home that remains vacant on Virginia
Street due to a sub-prime lending foreclosure may not be directly
related to Bank of America, the condition of our community has been
affected and has deteriorated as a result of a global financial
behavior in which Bank of America played a huge part.
of it this way. The Virginia St home where several
very pleasant people and their dog, Caesar lived until evicted, became
vacant and overgrown with
weeds. The elegant banking building on Columbia Rd, which we see
as a key to the overall appearance of our community, will also become
and boarded up.
PPS (Project for Public Spaces) acts as a consultant to our community and to
many urban communities throughout the world. Abandonment,
boarding up and blight only serve, they say, to create more. Our community
leaders must reach for helping to lead. We must grab at this opportunity using whatever mechanism,
justification and pressure we can to stop the rapid decline or Columbia Rd and to
enable a more rational and reasonable change to the face of our
|Posted: December 13, 2013
Nancy J Conrad
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