National Federation Celebrates the Launch of a New CDCU
The NCUA announced earlier in December it will issue a low-income charter to the East River Development Alliance organizing group that is building support for the CDCU.
The National Federation said it has been working with ERDA organizers since the project began, providing market analyses and feasibility studies, developing educational and marketing materials to secure deposit pledges, facilitating strategic planning and business plan development, and guiding organizers through NCUA's extensive chartering process.
From start to finish, the National Federation said, the organizing process took more than five years.
"ERDA is extremely grateful to Cliff Rosenthal and the federation staff, with special thanks to Director of Technical Assistance Brian Gately, for the support and expertise they have provided to us as we advanced through our organizing journey," said ERDA CEO Bishop Mitchell E. Taylor. "We are proud to be the first CDCU chartered in our region since 2000 and to be able to bring affordable and relevant financial services to the public housing neighborhoods where ERDA currently operates. We are very much looking forward to officially joining the ranks of CDCUs doing amazing work across the country."
The National Federation characterized ERDA as "a local nonprofit working to transform New York City public housing neighborhoods by providing residents with the tools and opportunities necessary for self-sufficiency and economic mobility."
The new work will focus primarily in the Woodside, Ravenswood, Astoria and Queensbridge residential and small business areas. Queensbridge, the largest public housing development in the country, often referred to as a "city within a city," spans six square blocks, includes 96 buildings and is home to more than 10,000 residents. Ravenswood, Astoria and Woodside Houses are home to an additional 15,000 residents.
With average incomes below $24,000 in each of ERDA's target communities, ERDA's members are well below both the New York City average income of $39,900 and the U. S. average income of $43,600, the National Federation reported. According to ERDA, only about half of families living in the various complexes are working families. These predominantly minority residents will be the credit union's primary field of membership.
Located just one subway stop from Grand Central Station, and featuring spectacular views of Midtown Manhattan, Long Island City, the area where many of the credit union's new members live, experienced a construction renaissance over the past several decades, with major corporations and developers turning to this neighborhood as a lower-cost option to the saturated market across the river. However, development has primarily been high-end commercial and residential, which is beyond the means of most of LIC's residents, the National Federation said.
Despite this growth, much of the development has centered on the immediate areas surrounding the Vernon Boulevard/Jackson Avenue subway stop, while much of Long Island City has continued to languish with some of the highest poverty and crime levels in the borough of Queens and in New York City.
ERDA hopes the credit union will become a source of affordable financing to help promote local ownership of homes and small businesses.
"A cooperative financial institution has always been part of ERDA's theory of change and revitalization. The launch of our credit union will embed a culture of ownership and savings in public housing neighborhoods in western Queens. Moreover, we believe that this is a replicable model for change in other public housing neighborhoods nationwide."
The federation noted that the ERDA chartering announcements was one of only two new CDCUs chartered in 2009.
"Chartering of new credit unions has unfortunately become a rare event-only two new federal charters this year, both of them CDCUs," said federation President/CEO Cliff Rosenthal. "This is one of our major areas of concern, and one which we are vigorously advocating with the NCUA."
"However, for the CDCU movement, this is all the more reason to celebrate ERDA's accomplishment and congratulate them on the years of hard work that they put into this effort," Rosenthal added.
ERDA organizers planned to hold a press conference but the days of bad weather in December made scheduling the various speakers difficult, so the exact date and time remains to be determined.
The only other credit union chartered this year was another CDCU that had also been working with the federation, First Bergen FCU of Hackensack, N.J., was chartered last January, the National Federation said. With only two new charters, 2009 has been the slowest year on record for new charters since the signing of the Federal Credit Union Act in 1934, the National Federation added.