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CDCU opens green branch in San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO (7/14/10)--Residents of San Francisco's South of Market (SOMA) neighborhood, have a new financial institution to assist them now that Northeast Community FCU (NECFCU), a $10 million-asset community development credit union (CDCU) serving more than 1,650 members, has opened its fourth retail location.
Northeast Community FCU (NECFCU), San Francisco, a $10 million-asset community development credit union (CDCU) serving more than 1,650 members, has recently opened its fourth retail location. (Photo provided by the National Association of Community Development CUs)
Located in a “green” building on the corner of Howard Street and Sixth Street, the SOMA branch is NECFCU’s latest endeavor to expand service to a community in desperate need of accessible and reliable financial services. San Francisco’s Sixth Street corridor is a mixed-use community. The area is characterized by high rates of homelessness and drug use, which has led to large numbers of vacant ground-floor commercial spaces; a prevalence of older residential and commercial buildings, including many single-room occupancy hotels; and a dearth in regulated financial service providers, with check cashers, payday lenders, pawn shops and loan brokers among the most widely available financial institutions in the community. Over the years, residents, developers and local businesses approached NECFCU encouraging the credit union to open a SOMA branch, but none of the commercial street-front locations available were suitable for a credit union. “We had many members and SOMA residents who requested that we open a convenient branch in the area to offer basic financial services,” explained Lily Lo, CEO/manager of NECFCU. “Before the opening of the SOMA branch, the neighborhood had no banking facilities in the area, and members in the community were forced to use check-cashing and loan services that charged exorbitant fees.” It wasn't until 2006 that Northeast Community FCU would find its SOMA home, with the completion of Plaza Apartments, the city’s first totally “green” low-income housing project for SOMA residents. Despite identifying a suitable location, it would take another four years before the credit union's SOMA branch would open for business. “After years of effort, and with extensive assistance from our partners and colleagues, there is now a responsible alternative to meet the community's financial needs,” Lo said. Special recognition was made to Patelco CU, a San Francisco-based $4-billion-asset credit union that has been one of Northeast Community FCU’s strongest supporters over the years, assisting with the development of the CDCU's branches in the Tenderloin, Visitacion Valley, and now SOMA; and providing each of those locations with Patelco ATMs, which the CDCU members can use for free. “As a community development credit union, Northeast Community is on the front lines in serving the low-income and underserved residents of San Francisco,” said Barry Kane, Patelco senior vice president of operations. “It continues to be an honor for Patelco to support the efforts of Northeast Community FCU in reaching out to these populations.” Representatives from several San Francisco credit unions also attended, including Patelco CU; Spectrum CU; SF Fire CU; SF Police CU; and Mission SF FCU--the only other CDCU in San Francisco--serving the predominantly Latino Mission neighborhood.
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