Citizen Action offers great praise for TD Bank’s $2B commitment — and push for others to follow its lead

Don’t be confused: Dena Mottola Jaborska, the executive director of New Jersey Citizen Action, is overwhelmingly happy with the $2 billion commitment TD Bank will announce Monday morning — one that helps provide assistance in numerous areas to low- and moderate-income families in New Jersey in a number of ways.

The massive commitment will go to providing loan assistance to first-time homeowners, increased (and easier) access to capital for small business owners from underserved communities, a commitment to job training programs and organizations — and just better overall banking products (including fewer fees) to people who have historically paid proportionately the highest fees.

“TD Bank is specifically investing directly into communities that are in need,” she said. “That’s the big deal here. This will be incredibly impactful.”

The impact, however, can be exponentially greater.

Mottola Jaborska said she is hopeful this agreement will become a model — not just for its commitment to these communities, but also because it is a commitment to communities in New Jersey.

“There are more agreements at the federal level,” she said. “Banks are really shying away from making agreements with the state-based groups. For groups like ours, that doesn’t work.

“We work in New Jersey. We want to improve the lives of low- and moderate-income people here in New Jersey. National agreements don’t do us a lot of good, because often they get spread all over the country — and that could mean that New Jersey would get little or nothing out of a deal like this.

“So, we’re super-excited about this.”

Specific details of the massive commitment are still being developed, but the focus is clear, Mottola Jaborska said.

“It will mean that they’ll build a relevant mortgage product that will have robust downpayment assistance for poor families,” she said. “It will mean that TD Bank will be backing programs to help workers develop skills they need, which is really important.

“We do a lot of financial coaching and do a lot of work with families around economic security. The one thing we don’t do specifically is help people get better jobs or train for other jobs. And, obviously, that’s central to financial security.

“Having TD making commitments to groups and programs that help with training so that they can be there for people is really important.”

More than anything, Mottola Jaborska said she is hopeful that other banks will follow TD Bank’s massive lead.

To be sure, numerous banks do have programs in the state — Mottola Jaborska is eager for more.

“At Citizen Action, we do everything we can to pressure, cajole and partner with the government to create programs and opportunities for people, but that’s not enough,” she said. “We need the private sector to step up to the plate. We need banks to step up to the plate.

“When TD Bank steps up the way they are, they become the standout and the model. We hope they will set an example where other banks will want to follow.”

That’s why Mottola Jaborska is so excited about Monday’s announcement.

“We’re hoping this announcement will be exponentially impactful because other banks will follow,” she said. “We’re talking to all the banks, all the time. They are saying things that sound good — and there are a lot of really good intentions.

“But good intentions don’t count. We can’t take good intentions to the bank, so to speak. So, we hope that TD Bank will inspire other banks to make commitments, specifically in New Jersey, because that’s where we want to see the impact.”