NEW YORK (6/3/09)--The New York State Banking Department will present its recommendations to the state banking board this week about how to expand its Banking Development District (BDD) program to bring banking services to underdeveloped areas. Some say credit unions should be allowed to participate. Critics of the current program say participants have not demonstrated they can meet the needs of underserved people, and State Banking Superintendent Richard Neiman has acknowledged a gap between what's offered by traditional banks and what's actually needed and used by underserved people (American Banker June 2). Credit unions should be allowed to participate in the program, something the banking lobby opposes, said Jonathan Mintz, commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. Only banks and thrifts are eligible for the program's benefits, which include tax breaks, below-market-rate municipal deposits and other incentives to banks that set up branches in underserved neighborhoods. The banking department held public hearings and received input from credit unions, community groups and alternative financial services providers, said the article. So far 38 branches in the state, including 25 in New York City, have qualified for the BDD program. Participants range from national companies like Capital One Financial Corp. and Citigroup Inc. to small local institutions.