NW Credit Unions Respond to Government Shutdown With Emergency Assistance, Money-Management Tools

“Credit unions that serve federal workers and the military have responded before to members’ financial needs resulting from furloughs, reimbursement delays, suspension of government programs or the closing of federal buildings housing branches. They need to do that once again.”Debie Matz, Chairman, NCUA

Northwest credit unions are responding today to a call from the National Credit Union Administration to help members who may be affected by a federal government shutdown that went into effect at midnight Monday.

Global Credit Union in Spokane immediately offered emergency assistance to members employed by the federal government, including interest-free loans to cover income lost because of furloughs or payment disruptions, no-fee extensions of existing loans and penalty-free certificate withdrawals.

“Our roots run deep with our military members,” Global president and CEO Jack Fallis said. (The credit union was founded in 1954 to serve members at Fairchild Air Force Base.) “If they do experience furloughs, we want to give them time and assistance to adjust. We’ve always been here for our members, and we are here now to help them through if they need us.”

That commitment to members was being repeated throughout the Northwest on Tuesday.

“We are offering a skip pay for loan payments in October for those furloughed or whose paycheck will be delayed by the shutdown,” said Lorene Turnquist, vice president for administration at EvergreenDIRECT Credit Union in Olympia.

“If a member raises concerns about how they are going to manage their money,” Peninsula Credit Union President and CEO Jim Morrell told his employees, “please reiterate our mission: ‘We listen, we serve, we educate, we care … Always!’”

Morrel said Peninsula, which is based in Shelton, Wash., has several tools in place to help members through the shutdown, including online financial assessments and money-management classes that started Tuesday.

In Portland, USAgencies Credit Union activated its Furlough Assistance Program, a customizable list of resources to help members fill gaps in their budgets. Marketing Director Molly Walter said the program includes loan deferments, “Just in Case” payday loans with a 4-percent interest rate and special repayment terms, and access to certified financial counselors.

Loan modifications, fee adjustments, Work Stoppage Loans and other specialized products are among the offerings at WSECU in Olympia. The credit union counts few federal employees among its members, said Ann Flannigan, vice president for public relations, but stood ready to help, “just like the support offered to state workers during uncertain budget times.”

The government shutdown will have no effect on NCUA operations. Individual accounts will remain insured up to $250,000, the agency said, but board Chairman Debbie Matz encouraged credit unions to maintain a state of readiness to help members who may be affected by an extended shutdown.

“Credit unions that serve federal workers and the military have responded before to members’ financial needs resulting from furloughs, reimbursement delays, suspension of government programs or the closing of federal buildings housing branches,” Matz said. “They need to do that once again.”

In a Letter to Credit Unions, the NCUA urged federally insured credit unions to take steps in the event of a federal government shutdown, including:

  • Ensure policies provide flexibility to respond to members’ financial needs.
  • Prepare for service interruptions if a shutdown affects access to credit union offices located in federal buildings.
  • Prudently work with affected members, including providing advances to individuals receiving direct deposits from the federal government.
  • Develop contingency plans with respect to participation in government programs that may be affected by a federal government shutdown.
  • Communicate response plans to members, staff and volunteers, in a timely manner.

Credit unions also may want to consider offering special programs to assist members who need short-term loans, create loans with special terms and rates, or offer payment flexibility, Matz said.

 

Questions? Contact Gary Stein: 503.350.2216, gstein@nwcua.org.

Posted in Economy, Federal, NCUA.