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ARLINGTON, Va. – Multiple common bond credit unions with assets of between $100 and $250 million led the way in adding underserved areas to their fields of membership under NCUA’s streamlined process for doing so, the agency has reported. These credit unions added 43 areas with potential membership increase of two million. Credit unions with assets of $5 to $20 million were next, adding 37 areas and 1.7 million potential new members, the agency said. “Both large and small credit unions are taking advantage of this program and are reaching out into these neighborhoods and communities,” said NCUA Board Chairman Dennis Dollar. They are indicating a significant and positive response from the residents. The $318 million First Resource Federal Credit Union, located in St. Joseph Michigan, added the most underserved areas so far in 2002, the agency reported, adding eight areas with a total potential membership increase of over 235,000 members. The $303 million, New Jersey based Paragon FCU added the single largest underserved area so far, making almost 300,000 residents potential credit union members. Credit unions added an additional 9.1 million residents of underserved areas to their fields of membership, thereby making them potential credit union members, according to the NCUA. In 2001 165 credit unions added 282 communities that had been designated as underserved by the U.S. Treasury Department, the agency reported, while in the first six months of 2002 121 credit unions added 196 areas. The total population from those 196 areas is 9.1 million, the agency said. The agency reported that the Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) estimates that 90 million Americans live in areas that meet its standards for “underserved.” The NCUA relies on CDFI’s definition in evaluating a credit union’s request to add an underserved area. This program’s goal is to empower communities and individuals towards greater financial self-sufficiency, said Dollar. “No one will ever achieve the American dream if his or her primary financial institution is a check casher or pawn shop. We believe credit unions can be a low cost financial alternative to the predatory lenders who have proliferated in these neighborhoods,” he added. Credit unions with multiple common bond charters added 77% of the underserved areas, followed by community chartered credit unions with 17% and single common bond credit unions with 6%, the agency said. [email protected]

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