WASHINGTON (10/16/13)--At the request of U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), ranking member on the House Committee on Financial Services, the Credit Union National Association Tuesday provided a letter describing the efforts that credit unions are taking to help those affected by the federal government shutdown.
"The credit union mission is to promote thrift and provide access to credit for provident purposes to members," wrote Bill Cheney, CUNA president/CEO, in the letter to Waters. "As member-owned, not-for-profit cooperatives, credit unions embody a 'people helping people' philosophy. As a result, when credit union members face hardship, they have confidence that their credit union will stand with them and provide assistance. It is simply what we do."
The letter outlines specifics of programs at 19 credit unions, including Congressional FCU, which initiated a relief program offering members a 0% 90-day loan that converts to a 4% 36-month loan after the 90 days are up.
Waters had sent a letter to CUNA late Friday asking for examples of specific programs at credit unions.
"Credit unions are not simply waiting for their members to ask for assistance. In many cases, they are actively reaching out to their membership through e-mail, mail, local media and social media to notify members of the availability of assistance programs," Cheney wrote.
"While CUNA has not conducted a comprehensive survey of credit unions to assess all that is being done to assist government workers, government contractors and other small businesses affected by the shutdown, the anecdotal evidence suggests that credit unions are stepping up in support of their members, as anyone who understands the mission of credit unions would expect them to do."
In addition to the program at Congressional FCU, the letter lists the specifics of furlough assistance programs at 18 credit unions from 14 states.
"While this is far from a comprehensive list of how credit unions have stepped up to help their members over the last two weeks, it is representative of what credit unions are doing as their members endure a government shutdown that has gone on longer than any could have reasonably expected and continues without any meaningful promise of ending soon," said Cheney's letter.
"So far, we have not heard of push back from the National Credit Union Administration or state regulators regarding these programs; however, if the shutdown is prolonged, it is possible that examiners may start to question the continuation of these services. In the meantime, credit unions will continue to do what they can to assist their members; however, we also encourage Congress to work together to end the shutdown as soon as possible," the letter said.
For yet more examples of programs from credit unions, see related story, "CU Branches Closed By Shutdown Still Helping Members, from today's News Now as well as past articles on the topic. Use the links.