Credit unions were front and center as Rep. Zach Nunn, R-Iowa, announced on Monday that he plans to introduce the Rural Credit Access Act (H.R. 7338) to increase accountability and transparency in the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund with Rep. Don Davis, D-N.C. Nunn made Monday’s announcement at Veridian Credit Union’s Des Moines branch with a press conference that included the Iowa Credit Union League and other credit union leaders.
“There’s no one better than our credit unions on the front lines every day providing a lot of assistance to folks across Iowa,” Nunn said. “Whether it’s hometowns in Ottumwa or right here in Des Moines, our credit unions have been a longtime partner, and really helped states like Iowa outkick our coverage when it comes to supporting our communities of all types.”
Nunn and Davis introduced the bill following the press conference.
“Credit unions have a long history of having a strong presence in underserved areas and low-income communities. With credit unions now making up nearly one third of CDFIs, the CDFI Fund is an important partner for the credit union community in serving these areas,” said America’s Credit Unions President/CEO Jim Nussle. “We thank Congressmen Nunn and Davis for introducing this important measure to improve the operations of the Fund. This legislation will ensure his constituents in Iowa and consumers across the country have safe and reliable access to CDFI institutions and the programs they provide without unexpected disruptions in service.”
“CDFIs all share a common goal to expand economic opportunities in low-income communities by providing access to vital financial products and services,” said Murray Williams, president/CEO of the Iowa Credit Union League. “This purpose aligns perfectly with the common mission of credit unions to support the financial well-being of members.”
Williams added that the five Iowa CDFI credit unions have been collectively awarded more than $10 million in CDFI grants.
Veridian Credit Union has been a CDFI since 2016 and was the first certified credit union in Iowa, said President/CEO Renee Christoffer. Veridian used $2.9 million awarded through its first two grant cycles to launch a financially inclusive mortgage product.
“We wanted to do everything we could to prevent members from facing barriers when trying to realize that dream of owning their own home,” she said, adding that the grants turned into $53 million in mortgage loans for more than 425 families or individuals.
Greg Hanshaw, president/CEO of the Ottumwa-based Community 1st Credit Union, said his credit union has used grants to establish a payday alternative loan and first-time homebuyer downpayment assistance program, leveraging $2.9 million in grants into more than $6 million in loans through both programs.
“These [payday alternative] loans are going to folks who need it the most, and who can’t get the help anywhere else except at payday loan organizations that take advantage of Iowans,” he said.