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NEW YORK – NCUA Chairman JoAnn Johnson toured the Harlem office of the $20 million Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union and met the staff. The credit union assumed control of the branch after the merger with the Homesteaders FCU in 2005 and, with it, the field of membership in some of New York’s most economically depressed neighborhoods. “The American Bankers Association has forced NCUA to place a moratorium on field of membership expansion requests and as a result entire underserved communities may not have access to credit union services,” said Pablo DeFilippi, board member of LESPFCU. “Chairman Johnson’s interest in learning about this negative impact is extremely encouraging as we are as a movement, mandated both by statute and mission to serve people of small means.” In addition to LESPFCU board and staff, Johnson met with Project Enterprise Executive Director Arva Rice, West Harlem Group Assistance Director Anasa Scott, Oscar McDonald from the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB) and members of local Housing Development Fund Corporations who explained their critical need for financing (building repairs, fixtures, renovations, etc.) and the unwillingness of most financial institutions to deal with small housing cooperatives that often require a significant investment in technical assistance to make them viable borrowers. LESPFCU understands this business model and has developed a unique expertise that is tremendously important to help preserve HDFCs as a viable and sustainable affordable housing option for the people of New York City, DeFilippi explained.

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