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Network Staff Testifies at City Council Banking Hearing

By Gabe Halperin-Goldstein

Kevin Thomas and two others presenting in City Counsel chambers

October 21, 2019

Kevin Thomas Jr., Associate Director of the Building Wealth and Health Network, testified before City Council's Committee on Commerce and Economic Development on banking accessibility. The hearing on Oct. 21 focused on unbanked and underbanked Philadelphians and the City's plans to help provide access to banking services for all residents. City Council members Bill Greenlee, Jannie Blackwell, Curtis Jones Jr., and Allan Domb were in attendance.

Thomas proposed eight recommendations to make the financial system more accessible for all Philadelphians. Thomas stressed the need for government intervention on this topic, citing the long history of commercial banks taking advantage of communities of color as evidence.

"There are problems that the private market can't solve," Thomas said. He urged the city to take action now.

Will Hall, of the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, and Sylvia Gallier Howard, of the Department of Commerce, also testified during the hearing. Following the testimonies, Councilman Greenlee and Councilman Domb asked several questions about causes of this issue and practical solutions. Thomas drew upon his experiences as a bank branch manager, Network financial coach, and Philadelphia resident to explain how to restore trust between banks and Philadelphia residents.

Thomas previously testified before City Council in support of the city's cashless store ban.

Read his full City Council testimony [PDF].

Watch the full Committee on Commerce and Economic Development hearing.

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