a Chinese bank in Oakland, CA, serving immigrant populations in the Bay Area
San Francisco is a unique marketplace, especially for banks and credit unions, as the cost of living in the Pacific northwest is higher than most regions. According to a study from the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, “the Bay Area’s three largest cities rank first (San Francisco), fourth (San Jose), and fifth (Oakland) in the country in terms of rental costs.” The median home value is also substantially higher than national average. This makes getting a home loan even harder for low- and moderate-income and POC families—people who too often cannot secure loans from traditional banks.
As the largest racial group besides whites in San Francisco, Asian Americans have had a cultural impact on the Pacific northwest since the mid-19th century. During the California gold rush of the 1850s, many Chinese Americans immigrated to San Francisco and the surrounding areas, looking for work and security as war and famine struck their home country. Racist sentiments from whites, exacerbated by an economic recession in the 1870s, led to race riots and eventually the passing of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which prevented more Chinese immigrants from entering the United States. Despite this--and a massive earthquake that leveled most of the city in 1906--the area’s Chinatown managed to survive until Asian immigration was again allowed after the second World War. However, Asian populations in the area didn’t experience any major growth until the 1980s. Now, more than a third of San Francisco’s residents were born outside of the United States.
Considering all of these factors, it’s incredibly important that people in the Bay Area have Better Banking Options which consider the needs of both POC and immigrant populations. Gateway Bank FSB (FSB stands for Federal Savings Bank) is the obvious choice for anyone looking to support these populations with their deposits, especially in the category of home mortgages and ownership. Gateway Bank formed in 1995 with the goal of becoming a truly community-oriented bank in Oakland’s Chinatown, and in our opinion, they’ve definitely succeeded in this goal.
When you look up San Francisco in our search engine, the top result is Gateway Bank. This is because they are a truly local bank which does a ton of quality lending in low-income census tracts, quite a feat considering their home is the Bay Area. Although they’re not technically located in the city, as their headquarters (currently their only branch) is in Oakland, they serve the greater Bay Area and offer both online and mobile banking. Although they’re not a designated CDFI, they are a designated MDI, and they may qualify as a CDFI but, as a small bank, lack the resources to apply for the designation.
We would recommend this Better Banking Option to anyone looking to support low-income, Asian immigrant populations in an area of the US which has few affordable housing options. Anyone can support this bank through their online and mobile banking options. As housing costs skyrocket nationwide, there’s never been a better time to move your money to Gateway Bank.