Household Finance Corp. launched its Urban Support Project branch in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza last week, marking the first time in decades that the Chicago-based company has opened an office in Southwest Los Angeles.
Household Finance officials said inner-city communities have historically been underserved by banks and other financial institutions.
Like its 400 other offices nationwide, the local branch offers such services as personal credit lines, home equity credit lines, and financial and consumer education. Branch manager Benny Montgomery said that the corporation hopes to open four or five additional branches in urban areas in 1994.
Although Montgomery said the financial services company is "re-entering the inner city" with this office, he emphasized that his branch doesn't have lower requirements or expectations for its clientele. "We're competitive with anyone out there, including banks," he said. "We're not just concerned with interest rates, but with good service. We want to come in and do a bang-up job."
Montgomery said the branch is committed to serving the community in more ways than providing financial services. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony last week, guests toured an office decorated with artworks purchased from the Museum of African American Art, Gallery Plus and several local artists.
Household Finance also presented $1,000 scholarships to two local high school seniors, Anthony Wheeler of Dorsey and Nabachwa Ssensalo of Crenshaw. Montgomery said the Baldwin Hills branch plans to stay involved with local schools and students.
"This is our home. We live here," Montgomery said. "We're not just here to make a dollar."
Founders National Bank President Carlton Jenkins, whose institution recently opened two additional branches in the Crenshaw area, said Household Finance's effort increases financial options in the urban core.
"Clearly, they've discovered there's a great market for their services," said Jenkins, who said he would refer some loan applicants to the new Household Finance office. "Whenever there are more opportunities in the community for obtaining loans and establishing credit, it's a tremendous plus."
Information: (213) 292-9266.