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WASHINGTON – The National Community Reinvestment Coalition kept up its periodic attack on credit unions for allegedly not doing enough to serve low-income communities in 2005, thus helping to keep the topic alive. NCRC is the umbrella group of more than 800 groups and institutions, including the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and a few individual credit unions. The organization previously sued the NCUA over how the agency revoked its Community Action Plan regulation which would have imposed a rule similar to bank Community Reinvestment Act regulations on credit unions. In May, NCRC issued Credit Unions: True To Their Mission?, a report that it claimed documented the failure of credit unions of over $100 million in assets to adequately serve low-income members or communities. “NCRC’s study finds that large credit unions are failing in their original promise to their members,” NCRC president John Taylor said at a press conference announcing the report. “Big credit unions lag behind banks and thrifts in lending to credit-worthy, hardworking, low-income and minority Americans – the very communities they were established to serve. Isn’t it time to hold these non-profit bank-like financial institutions accountable?” Taylor and the NCRC defined large credit unions as those above $100 million in assets, citing the General Accounting Office Report of 2003 which found that while 89% of credit unions in the U.S. have fewer than $100 million in assets, the remaining 11% control 75% of the industry’s assets. The report also asserted that a greater percentage of households of low- or moderate-income are bank customers than credit union members. But Cliff Rosenthal, executive director of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions said that Taylor and the NCRC had neglected to consult CDCUs about the new report. Further, when questioned at the podium about why NCRC had issued the report, Taylor claimed it had been because members organizations of the NCRC had tried to work with local credit unions and been rebuffed, a claim that the NCRC never substantiated. Later, in July, someone leaked the minutes of an NCRC meeting at which Taylor and others discussed their various degrees of success in approaching banker groups for help in the campaign to force credit unions under some form of CRA. -

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