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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Harvard University Employees Credit Union is winning the praises of both the university administration and a union local for offering what is being described as an innovative loan package to handle costly housing rentals. “A recent problem for the university and the union has been the very high rentals employees have to pay to live in Cambridge and Boston and so we worked on developing this loan plan,” explained Eugene Foley, president of the $200 million HUECU. The CU’s “Transition Loan” program with 0% interest and a $2,500 maximum is “not making any money for us,” declared Foley but the product is earning goodwill with both the university and the union as it attracts new members. Both the Harvard administration and leaders of the union, Local 3650 of the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, a member of the American Federation of State and County Municipal Employees, have lauded the CU for helping out in a time of need. “The credit union deserves a lot of credit for stepping up to this issue,” commented William Murphy, director of the university’s Department of Employee and Labor Relations which last fall bargained with the union on a new contract which contained a clause on “Transitional” loans. “We’re very glad Eugene Foley took an interest in our problem when surveys we took last year showed our members could not make transitional moves into the Harvard neighborhood because of the costs,” said Adrienne Laudau, president of the Harvard union. The CU’s rental loans, which are limited to defraying expenses for security deposits, fees and related costs, “are a way of easing the pain” for the union’s 4,800 employees, she said. Under the labor contract between the university and the union, a separate fund has been set up for the loans and unionists have to sign an affidavit verifying they are members and the money will be used for rental purposes only. “We couldn’t have our members taking out loans to buy curtains,” said Landau. Foley said $500,000 has been earmarked by the CU for the “Transitional” loans and so far the CU has written about 30 of the loans totaling $50,000. ” We have picked up about 20 new members because of these loans,” said Foley noting also that 60% of Harvard employees coming in for the loans were not already members. Foley said the CU’s commitment to the program is on a yearly basis and can be renewed annually. Murphy of the university said there may be other Ivy League schools doing collective bargaining that may want to develop similar linkups with CUs noting the problem is most acute in larger cities “ like Columbia and NYU in New York” where rents are extremely high. The Harvard labor executive praised HUECU for coming up with a “creative” approach to the problem and “becoming a good partner for us standing up as it did for community relations.” Perhaps a bank might do the same “but I don’t know,” he concluded. [email protected]

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