This Small Queens Bank Is Helping Immigrants Achieve Big Dreams

Queens, New York is the most ethnically diverse community in the United States, and a relatively new bank is stepping up to help Queens citizens from all over the world achieve the American dream: home-ownership.

For recent immigrants to America, myriad challenges await as they seek to establish their lives and gain financial and personal security. One of those hurdles to overcome is getting a loan to buy a home. Securing a mortgage is difficult for people to immigrated to America for a number of reasons, including the fact that many immigrants own their own businesses and the fact that the financial crisis sparked by subprime mortgages made many banks hesitant to loan without extensive paperwork.

That second point—the backlash against lending after the financial crisis—is actually what inspired Steve Schnall to found a new bank focused on helping new Americans secure mortgages.

A former housing finance professional, Schnall realized that "the whole collapse of the market and Dodd-Frank causing it to be more and more difficult for people to obtain home loans." He decided to do something about it. So he founded Quontic Bank, in Queens, which would focus on "underserved ethnic communities in the boroughs."

One couple who exemplifies the opportunity that Quontic can offer to immigrants in America is Wendy and David Alphonso. Both Wendy and David immigrated to the U.S. from Trinidad, and struggled to find a reliable bank. Until they discovered Quontic, where the customer base is 75% immigrants and where bankers speak a dozen languages, from Chinese to Urdu.

Recently, Wendy and David were able to get a mortgage and buy their first home with help from Quontic, including their loan officer helping them while he was on vacation so they wouldn't lose their chance.

"I'll tell you honestly, you go to a big bank and you don't get that one-on-one personal relationship," Wendy said. "With his help we were able to get the house."

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