Why Black Credit Unions Matter for Financial Empowerment

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by Oscar Perry Abello

Chancellor Gregg needed to move, and quickly. He was on a month-to-month lease for his New York City apartment, which his landlord suddenly decided to terminate last winter. Moving is hard in any city, let alone one with rents as expensive as New York. Upon signing of a New York City lease, renters pay first and last month’s rent, a security deposit, and often a broker’s fee.

“So you’re paying four months’ worth of rent in advance for only two months guaranteed in the apartment,” Gregg says.

Short on cash, Gregg needed to borrow about $3,000 as soon as possible. Gregg had a good understanding of his available options, given that he works at a Brooklyn nonprofit that sees about 2,500 clients a year in its financial counseling program — including Gregg himself. When he first moved to NYC four years ago, his credit score had been languishing in the 400s, but by last winter he had gotten it up to the 600s.

“I tried every type of way I could, but kept getting denied,” Gregg says. “Some people were like ‘you need to get to 700.’”

Fortunately, a new option just opened up for Gregg. The nonprofit where Gregg works, Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, had launched a new partnership with Concord Federal Credit Union. As part of that partnership, Concord expanded its membership eligibility to include the nonprofit’s clients, staff and board members. The partnership is just one small part of a larger effort to reverse the trend of minority-owned credit unions closing at the rate of one per week.

Read more at Next City