Encouraging First Time Bankers

Another effort is launched to get more people to Bank on Houston. The successful push that began two years ago resulted in thousands of Houstonians becoming bank customers for the first time. But officials say too many still carry a lot of cash, which puts them at risk of becoming a crime victim. Pat Hernandez has more.

Bank on Houston is an effort to get people who use supermarkets and check cashing services for their banking needs to use real banks. This is Houston City Controller Ronald Green:

"It's part of a greater program, the Bank on America program. San Francisco was the first city to embrace it; Houston was the first Texas city to embrace it, and certainly we know that it has gotten bigger and better, and probably is the largest Bank on America program in the country right now."

Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia says there are too many Houstonians who risk being  robbery victims for carrying cash.

"Over my years remembering my days as a beat cop, recognizing that there are too many families out there that believe in mattress cash. It is, regretfully, a component that contributes to victimization and crime, and so Bank on Houston is an excellent excellent initiative to help us in the public safety sector, to help us out."

Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Houston City Controller Ronald Green join Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia
Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Houston City Controller Ronald Green join Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia in touting the benefits of Bank on Houston

It was the vision of Houston Mayor Annise Parker, when she was controller, to change the mindset of many in low to moderate income neighborhoods who do not use banks, to become more educated about the safety of those institutions.

"We wanted to raise awareness in the community. We wanted to give opportunity to people who hadn't thought about mainstream banking services. We wanted to make quality money management education more easily available, and here's where I thank the institutions that came together that do financial literacy programs, because they were a part of the effort from the beginning ."

To date, nearly 40-thousand non-banking Houstonians have applied for low or no cost accounts at partnering banks. Officials hope to see 10-thousand new bank users by year's end.

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...