ST. LOUIS (10/27/15)--St. Louis Community CU (SLCCU) has joined with a nonprofit organization and the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis on initiatives to help rebuild the community of Ferguson, Mo., and address issues related to conditions that led to the death in August 2014 of Michael Brown.
SLCCU, local nonprofit agency Justine Petersen and the Urban League have created a $50 million bank fund to provide more than 450 well-qualified low-income St. Louis families with the opportunity to own their own home and remain successful homeowners through financial counseling, homeownership education and ongoing support.
An op-ed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Oct. 25) outlines that initiative and two others that the credit union and community agencies are taking “to increase access to homeownership, jobs, social services and financial services” that would “make our communities sustainable and self-reliant.”
Co-authors of the newspaper piece are Patrick Adams, president/CEO of SLCCU; Robert Boyle, CEO of Justine Peterson, a nonprofit that helps low-income borrowers buy and rehabilitate real estate and provides financial literacy and capability programs; and Michael McMillan, president/CEO of the Urban League.
“Enabling families to be sustainable homeowners will help the communities in which they live become stronger, safer and better,” they wrote.
Homeownership is particularly difficult “because the Dodd-Frank Act has caused banks to set inflexible thresholds for home loan applicants, denying many access to homeownership,” wrote Adams and his co-authors. They noted that during the foreclosure crisis, private equity companies bought homes and began charging higher rents. Available housing inventory decreased.
In a second initiative--to bring economic stability and financial literacy to the communities--SLCCU was one of several financial organizations that expanded services in Ferguson after Brown’s death to help people improve their credit scores, build assets and accumulate wealth, wrote Adams. SLCCU provides financial services to the unbanked and underbanked at its 11 branches and hopes to build two new facilities--one in North City at a former Gateway Bank and a Wealth Accumulation Center (WAC) in South City at Gravois and Oregon.
The Gateway branch will provide expanded financial services options. The WAC will provide banking and financial services, financial and life skills counseling, tax preparation and affordable financial services. A RedDough Money Center will offer low-cost, small-dollar loans, check cashing and money transfers.
The third initiative is the Urban League’s Ferguson Empowerment Center, which will establish a social service, youth development and employment training and placement hub.
“Individually, each project can help our communities thrive,” the three wrote. “Together, they can serve as the catalyst to long-term meaningful change in our community.”