Los Angeles, CA –Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined local community members and leaders in the banking and non-profit sectors to roll out “Bank on LA” – a new initiative to help low-income Angelenos open bank accounts, access critical financial resources and move up the economic ladder, on Tuesday at the Community Financial Resource Center, 4060 South Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90037.

Mayor Villaraigosa developed “Bank on LA” to help more low- and middle-income families establish savings, build up a credit history, and access the tools for long-term financial success and stability.

By connecting local households to free, reliable banking services, this innovative and collaborative effort will develop and market starter accounts; encourage and educate residents about account ownership; assist local households with money management skills; form coalitions to market to unbanked residents; and focus on neighborhoods hit hardest by the weakening economy, such as South L.A., the Northeast Valley, and East L.A.

Nearly 300,000 Los Angeles households lack basic financial tools, like a checking or savings account. As a result, families cannot build up assets for the future; save money for their homes, cars, businesses, and children’s education; or develop a strong credit history that enables residents to be full participants in the nation’s financial system.

Without a bank account, Angelenos are forced to use alternative financial services that can cost up to $1,000 per year–translating into more than $54 million in check cashing fees and $88 million in payday loan fees transferred away from homes and communities that need those dollars most.