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Latino conference tackles foreclosure service
DALLAS (6/18/08)--Credit unions should do everything they can to help educate consumers about the services available to keep them in their homes, U.S. Treasurer Anna Maria Escobedo Cabral told attendees of the Fifth Latino Credit Union Conference in Dallas last week. Cabral opened the conference with a discussion about the foreclosure crisis in the U.S. She applauded credit unions for their efforts to provide financial education and affordable financial services to low- and moderate-income Americans.
From left: Harriet May, CEO, GECU, El Paso, Texas; Dick Ensweiler, CEO, Texas Credit Union League; Maria Martinez, CEO, Border FCU, Del Rio, Texas; and John Herrera, vice president for advocacy, Self-Help CU, Durham, N.C., and founder of Latino Community CU, Durham; spoke at the Fifth Latino Credit Union Conference in Dallas last week. (Photo provided by the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions)
Credit unions also can serve new Americans, including those whose immigration status is in question, said Bill Cheney, CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues. “We have in California a number of credit unions who have been extremely successful in accepting the Matricula Consular (consular identification) for new members and existing members,” he said. Immigration status of those carrying the consular identification is sometimes controversial, but “credit unions are not immigration attorneys, nor a police force, and once the credit union’s board of directors has determined what the credit union’s field of membership is, it becomes the credit union’s responsibility to serve the entire field of membership,” he added. Matricula Consular “is a perfectly legal and acceptable form of identification,” and the National Credit Union Administration has published briefs and papers about the legality of credit unions to accept the identification, Cheney said. Credit unions have a great opportunity to serve the Latino market, said Dick Ensweiler, former Credit Union National Association (CUNA) board chairman and president/CEO of the Texas Credit Union League (TCUL). It’s important to identify major defining factors of Latino groups within each specific community so credit unions can design programs and services tailored to the needs of their membership, he said. Attracting Latinos requires not only an understanding of Latino language and culture, but knowledge of the types of services they need. Credit unions should start with basic services such as remittances, check cashing, debit and ATM cards, basic savings and checking accounts, he added. “People ask me for my business plan to serve Hispanics, and I tell them we serve Hispanics because that’s our community,” concluded Harriet May, president/CEO of GECU, El Paso, Texas, and a CUNA board member. “Our credit union membership is 80% Hispanics. This is something we do because it’s our culture, because it’s the right thing to do, and because it’s simply good business.” The four-day conference was organized by the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and the Network of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals. Sponsors included the TCUL, CUNA Mutual, NeighborWorks America, UNFCU Financial Advisors, the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, Southwest Corporate FCU, SLI Group and Coopera Consulting.
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