NEW YORK (6/15/09)--The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions hailed the launch of the Fair Mortgage Collaborative (FMC), a coalition of organizations to provide fair and safe loans for low- to moderate-incomers, as an important step in providing access to mortgages with consumers' best interests in mind. The FMC initiative was announced June 10 at the National Council of La Raza (News Now June 11). It aims to certify certain lenders as "safe, "fair," and free of predatory lending to help restore consumer confidence in mortgage lenders. The federation is a co-founder and executive committee member of the collaborative. Cliff Rosenthal, federation president/CEO and treasurer of the FMC, said the federation has worked on the project for four years. "This is an important building block" in certifying credit unions as equitable, trusted and sustainable providers of financial products for consumers, he said. BECU (Boeing Employees CU) in Tukwila, Wash., one of the certified lending organizations in the FMA program, is one of the federation's Community Development Partners, a group of large, high-performing credit unions helping to advance service to low- and moderate-income communities, he said. BECU is a major supporter of the Express CU in Seattle, which became a community development credit union (CDCU) affiliated with a new nonprofit organization to serve low-income communities. "In any initiative like this, reaching scale is a critical challenge. BECU, with more than 600,000 members and assets in excess of $8.7 billion, is the largest credit union in Washington State and the fourth largest credit union in the country," Rosenthal said. "Its participation in this initiative will be extremely important in demonstrating the value and impact of FMC certification, especially at a time when our country desperately needs to restructure the way the mortgage business works." The federation's CDCU Mortgage Center LLC, which purchases affordable fixed-rate mortgages from its member credit unions, has also been certified by the FMC. "We expect there to be substantial demand for certification, which requires a review of credit union mortgage portfolios and practices by an independent third party," Rosenthal said. "Because of our role in the FMC, our member CDCUs and community development partners will be the first credit unions to be eligible for certification."