NAPLES, Fla-A record 12.5 million new potential members were adopted by federally-chartered credit unions expanding service into underserved and low-income communities nationwide in 2001. The rate outpaced last year's numbers by more than 10 million new potential members. NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar announced the latest statistics at the winter meeting of the American Association of Credit Union Leagues. Dollar credited the significant increase to the NCUA's new streamlined approach for expanding into underserved communities. "Without a doubt, more Americans have access to an alternative to predatory lending than ever before because of the results from this new streamlined process," Dollar said. "This process maintains our due diligence and requires it of the credit unions as well, but it emphasizes efficiency and reduction of regulatory burden." NCUA's newest data confirms that during the first 11 months of 2001, credit unions adopted 231 communities with a total population of 12.5 million. This compares to the entire year of 2000 when credit unions expanded into only 50 areas meeting the underserved criteria with a population of 2.3 million. Dollar emphasized that approximately 350,000 Americans have access to faith-based credit union services as a result of these institutions adopting underserved communities. The chairman has encouraged faith-based credit unions to reach out to their communities in line with the administration's faith-based programs.

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