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ALEXANDRIA, Va.-Shiloh of Alexandria Federal Credit Union officials were flanked by Congressman Jim Moran (D-Va.), Alexandria Mayor William Euille, NCUA Board Member Debbie Matz, and others during the unveiling of the CUs new affordable mortgage program. The $1.4 million credit union with just over 800 members in an underserved area of Alexandria has partnered with the City of Alexandria, the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA), CU National Mortgage, Prime Alliance, NCUA, NAFCU, National Credit Union Foundation, National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, First Home Alliance, and Fannie Mae to make the program possible. Fannie Mae provided a $100,000 Community Development Financial Institutions program deposit to get the program going and helped connect Shiloh of Alexandria with CU National Mortgage, which was looking to pilot a community development mortgage solution. “We’ve been humbled by the attention we’ve received in the last week,” John Dupree, Jr., of Shiloh of Alexandria Federal Credit Union commented during the press conference. He explained that the credit union has wanted to start this program for a long time. “That’s the number one way you can empower a low-income family,” Dupree said. “That’s the number one way you build a community.” Lakeyda Robinson, a teachers’ assistant for Alexandria Public Schools and city recreation department employee, was the first borrower to pre-qualify for the mortgage program. Robinson said she has lived in public housing for all her life and she and her seven-year-old daughter were looking forward to purchasing their own home with a backyard to play in. “I really think it’s going to improve my life,” she said. Robinson has been enrolled in a family self-sufficiency program, which teaches all about financial goal setting and saving. Through the program, she has placed funds in escrow to help with the down payment of her first home. She has also participated in the credit union’s Individual Development Account program. Fannie Mae Northern Virginia Partnership Office Director David Jeffers noted that right across the street from where the church that founded the credit union stands was a slave market 150 years ago. Shiloh of Alexandria Reverend Lee A. Earl continued on in that strain. He emphasized that private property was denied to slaves and that the work of the church and credit union were “consistent with the vision of those fresh out of slavery and consistent with the members that come here.” Earl said it takes “public, private, and civic cooperation” to make a program like this work. Alexandria Mayor William Euille agreed, “Government can’t do everything for everyone.” Jeffers explained that the mortgages are sold to Fannie Mae. ARHA and other groups are getting the word out about the program. The city is offering financial counseling. “It’s all about weaving this fabric together. Without that, it’s all fluff,” he said. “Owning a home is about so much more than the simple finances of it,” U.S. Congressman Jim Moran (D-Va.) said during the press conference. “It helps build financial security, he said and lift people into the middle class. Unfortunately, in Northern Alexandria, there are a fraction of the affordable housing groups that there are in many areas because housing is so expensive, Jeffers pointed out. “That’s the frustration we have right now.” Dupree remarked. “That’s the dilemma we’re running into right now, but we’re determined.” NCUA Board Member Debbie Matz, who grew up in a housing project in New York City said she understood the importance of homeownership. She said that homeownership is down for low-income people since 1998 (see related story) and “It’s more a mirage than a dream for low-income people these days.” “Homeownership gaps are way too big in the African-American community, the Hispanic community and many other communities,” Fannie Mae Senior Vice President Mercy Jimenez said. Shiloh of Alexandria’s new program is powered by CU National Mortgage. CU National Mortgage uses Prime Alliance, a mortgage solution exclusively for credit unions that includes a Web-based mortgage origination tool powered by Fannie Mae’s Desktop Underwriterr. Michael McGrath, Jr., president and CEO of CU National Mortgage, said his organization is looking to provide the back office mortgage work for the smallest of credit unions and is interested in expanding its program to others. Jimenez said that it is a positive that the credit union’s brand remains on the product, because it provides a trust factor and members feel more comfortable coming to ask for help. “You can imagine the intimidation factor with first time homebuyers,” she said. “I look forward to seeing the results of this initiative take root” in the form of home ownership, Mayor Euille said. Shiloh of Alexandria Federal Credit Union was founded in 1993 to serve the members of the historic Shiloh Baptist Church. In 2001, the credit union was approved to serve the low-income, underserved Parker Gray section of Alexandria. [email protected]

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