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ALEXANDRIA, Va.-NCUA Vice Chairman Rodney Hood admitted he feels a rush from waiting until Dec. 23 to start his holiday shopping, but there is nothing last minute about his background in financial services. Throughout his broad career, Hood has found success in the power of partnerships, something he plans to encourage credit unions to do during his time on the board. He first entered the community development arena at a North Carolina bank that has since been acquired by Bank of America. He worked with church groups and others to help provide small business lending to those having difficulty accessing capital. “I did a lot of training on credit repair. I wrote out a curriculum for business lending 101 and for mortgage lending,” he recalled. As he progressed through his professional journey, Hood continued his outreach work with Wells Fargo, where he worked with the Neighborhood Reinvestment Coalition, the National Council of LaRaza, and Habitat for Humanity to ensure the company was providing affordable housing opportunities in the target markets. Hood then went to North Carolina Mutual, the state’s oldest and largest black-owned insurance company, headquartered in Durham. Even the insurance industry was looking to make gains in emerging markets, he pointed out. As the associate administrator of the Rural Housing Service at the US Department of Agriculture, a political appointment, his office partnered with other federal agencies, including NCUA, to expand its homeownership efforts. NCUA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with USDA in 2002 to promote homeownership; Hood addressed an Access Across America meeting in February 2004 on housing opportunities with USDA. Though he has made the move to NCUA, Hood is still anxious for USDA to use its loan guarantees to the full potential and credit unions should take advantage. USDA provides loan guarantees up to 80% for mortgages to low- to moderate-income households in rural areas. The department also provides grants of up to $6,500 to seniors for home repairs. “As I’m out giving presentations and talks, I will let the credit union industry know how they can work with USDA guarantees,” he said, as well as others. For Hood, as a regulator, safety and soundness is “paramount,” and so he said he would continue to “look at ways to mitigate risk,” including these loan guarantees. Even the banks are potential partners in credit unions’ efforts to expand homeownership, he added, explaining that a number of lending consortia exist where credit unions and banks can work together. Having worked in community development departments at a couple of banks and now learning about credit unions, Hood said he can see the differences in the attitudes toward community development. “There is a difference in seeing credit union community development work is at the core of why credit unions exist,” Hood said, noting that those of modest means are the people credit unions were created for. “They are doing it because they want to and that’s the very reason they were chartered.” He observed that the credit union people he has met thus far are “passionate” and “want to leave an indelible mark on people’s lives.” Hood began his term with a `listening tour’ in Mississippi with the Mississippi Credit Union Association. He met with officials from Hope Community Credit Union as well as the league’s Pine Burr Chapter, where he attracted about 100 attendees. Some banks may be doing their community development work out of altruism but also because they have to. “At the end of the day, I just want people who want to have access to credit to have it,” Hood stated. Credit unions are serving families of modest means and continue to deserve their tax-exemption, he added. “Of course they are. As we look at the homeownership rates, they’ve gone up exponentially,” the vice chairman said. He said he is convinced that credit unions have been a part of that. Hood said he hopes that NCUA will be able to come up with a better way of tracking service to the underserved “without taking their eye off the ball.” He pointed to an example from his trip to Mississippi. An elderly woman had fallen victim to the vicious cycle of payday lending to the point nearly all her Social Security check, about $600, was going to pay off six different accounts. A credit union came to her aid by wrapping up the six accounts in one loan and cutting her payments to about $200 a month. “I hope we can continue to track those kind of success stories,” Hood commented. As NCUA and credit unions try to move toward this transparency, he said it is important that lawmakers know “the great things we’re doing to reach the underserved and that we want to hear from them.” If the House Ways and Means Committee and others are not educated on the credit union difference, the tax-exemption could be at stake. “Taxing would fundamentally change the scope of credit unions, it would so change their mission, it would prevent them from offering the lower-cost services to their members,” he said. While the vice chairman expects to be incredibly busy listening to credit unions’ concerns, he still hopes to find time to focus on a myriad of activities. His loves include fly fishing and shooting clays and targets. Hood is big into golf and tennis. Music has always been an important part of his life. He learned to play the piano and trumpet growing up. Hood is currently working on his first book, Voices Unheard, on African-American opera singers who went to work in Europe because they were prevented by segregation from working in America. The bachelor also enjoys travel, which he does nearly every weekend from Washington, D.C. to his home in North Carolina and back. Some of his favorite places are the beach right out side of Wilmington and the mountains of North Carolina. He also likes international travel, naming Venice as his first choice. [email protected]

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