January 15, 2020

Warren, Markey Press OCC for Solutions Following Closure of TD Bank in Springfield, Massachusetts

Branch's Closure Leaves Over 3,000 Residents of Low-Income, Minority Neighborhood Without Access to Full-Service Bank

Text of Letter (PDF)

Springfield, MA - United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) wrote to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) to request that the agency meet with community leaders to find a solution for residents affected by the closure of a TD Bank branch in Springfield, Massachusetts. The senators' letter, which follows a similar request made by Massachusetts State Senator James T. Welch and State Representative Bud Williams, comes with over 3,000 individuals at risk of becoming unbanked or underbanked as a result of the branch's closure.

On October 31, 2019, TD Bank notified the OCC and its customers of plans to close its branch located at 958 State Street in Springfield on January 31, 2020. This branch serves the Mason Square neighborhood, which is part of a census tract that has been identified as a low-income area. The estimated median family income for this tract is $34,806, and approximately 89 percent of the population are racial and ethnic minorities.

The State Street Branch is the only full-service bank in the Mason Square neighborhood, with the closest bank nearly two miles away. Based on data collected from the United States Census Bureau's American Community Survey, 31.4% of occupied households in this tract do not have a vehicle available, meaning that these individuals would have to walk two miles for many important banking services. TD Bank has suggested that residents can use online banking services in place of a physical bank, but approximately 22% of Mason Square residents do not have a computer in their household, while an additional 8% of residents have a computer but are without an internet subscription -- making it difficult to access TD Bank's mobile banking services.

In their letter, Senators Warren and Markey noted that under federal law, when a resident of a low- to moderate-income area writes to the appropriate banking agency with a "non-frivolous" request in response to the announcement of a bank closure, that agency is required to convene a meeting with community leaders to discuss potential ways to mitigate the harm caused by the closure. These solutions could include "the establishment of a new branch by another depository institution, the chartering of a new depository institution, or the establishment of a community development credit union, following the closing of the branch."

"Given the imminent closure of the branch, it is our hope that the OCC does not allow this community to be left behind and proceeds in an expedient manner to find a solution for these customers," the senators wrote.

Massachusetts State Senator Welch and State Representative Williams wrote to the OCC with a similar request in December, but in its response, the OCC did not commit to convening the meeting, as required by federal law.

"We are asking that TD Bank actually hear the community -- to understand the importance of having a physical bank presence in Mason Square, and the negative impact the closure would have," said State Senator James T. Welch (D-West Springfield). "There are obstacles for many people to get to a branch a few miles away or access online banking, and this puts them at a great disadvantage."

"The bank is an irrefutable asset to the Mason Square neighborhood. This closure will create a financial banking desert in a community of minority and low-income individuals. Additionally, it will create hardship for necessary services, such as home mortgages, bank loans, check cashing and other services that an ATM simply cannot provide," said State Representative Bud L. Williams, 11th Hampden District