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Neighbors FCUs program puts people in cars
BATON ROUGE, La. (4/2/10)--Neighbors FCU, Baton Rouge, La., is working with an Enterprise Rent-A-Car dealer and Catholic Charities in a special loan program to help people get transportation to and from work. Enterprise sells cars that it is replacing in its rental fleet, all about one or two years old and worth about $10,000. Catholic Charities puts up $2,500 for a down payment, the first three monthly payments and to help with car insurance. The credit union provides low-interest loans to people who otherwise wouldn't qualify for them (The Advocate March 19). The Moving Toward Self-Sufficiency Program started after Hurricane Katrina drove thousands of people from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. Many had relied on New Orleans' public transportation to commute to work. Baton Rouge's bus system didn't meet their needs. Transportation prevented people from getting to work. Catholic Charities tried to solve the problem by buying inexpensive cars for clients needing transportation, but the vehicles broke down often and the organization couldn't fix them. Enterprise regional marketing manager Kevin Guice began working with the credit union and Catholic Charities on a solution, which turned out to be the loan program. Of the 60 participants so far, only one has defaulted, Steve Webb, chief operations officer at Neighbors FCU, told The Advocate. Everyone pays because they understand they're being given an opportunity and they need to uphold their end of the process, Webb said. Neighbors FCU provides basic financial training of the program's participants, all Catholic Charities clients. Participants are encouraged to open a checking account, use direct deposit and become educated about high-cost financing they should avoid, Webb told the publication. Seed money from the Baton Rouge Area Foundation helped start the program, and grants from the National Credit Union Foundation and Enterprise Foundation got it operating. The Catholic Charities is holding a raffle to keep the program going.


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