PHOENIX – Desert Schools FCU has surprised even itself. Five months after it signed a Community Lending Alliance with Fannie Mae and committed $100 million in home loans to low-to-moderate income and minority families over two years, the $2.5 billion CU exceeded its goal. “When we set the $100 million goal we thought it would be difficult to reach it in two years, we thought it would be a stretch. Here we’ve reached it in just five months. If we thought we could have achieved the goal in just five months, we would have committed more,” said DSFCU Vice President and Chief Information Officer Rondle Amstutz. When Desert Schools signed the alliance with Fannie Mae, it promised to allocate $100 million in home loans to be distributed over a two-year period. But by Dec. 31, 2005, it had already delivered $104.29 million in the loans to fulfill its commitment. That amount includes $42.7 million in loans delivered to minority borrowers, which represents 171% of the $25 million goal. DSFCU’s Robin Simmons, director of mortgage lending explained the CU’s commitment to the Community Lending Alliance is just one of the many partnerships the CU has as part of its focus on serving the underserved. For example, DSFCU is currently working with the town of Guadeloupe, an underserved area in the Phoenix market, for loans to that community. It’s also involved in a pilot program with a nonprofit group called Valle del Sol to rescue victims of predatory lenders, the majority of whom Simmons said are non-English speaking. DSFCU also has two bilingual loan officers and processors to further help it serve the underserved communities. “Our track record of serving the underserved is one of the reasons Fannie Mae approached us for the commitment to the Community Lending Alliance,” said Simmons. “Fannie Mae looked at the historical data of what we’ve done in the past, and we raised the bar slightly to come up with the $100 million commitment, of which 25% was for minority borrowers,” she added. The average size loan DSFCU has made as part of the alliance is $160,000. The loans are geared to first-time homebuyers. Although Desert Schools has exhausted its $100 million commitment to the Community Lending Alliance, it’s continuing to make loans to underserved communities and engage in partnerships with nonprofits to give back to the community. It also intends to renew its commitment, “we just have to figure out how much it will be.” Simmons said, “We see a big void in the market with people who don’t speak English for financial services. They’re easy prey for predators. The more we can help them and show them there’s someone that wants to work with them, the more they benefit.” -

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