Credit Unions Offer Federal Employees Assistance as Government Shutdown Drags On


The partial federal government shutdown is now in its twenty-fifth day and the longest in U.S. history. Jan. 11 was the first day an estimated 800,000 federal employees didn’t receive a paycheck. As they wait for it to end, they are struggling to pay mortgages, credit card bills, car loans, daycare, utilities, and all of life’s other necessities. This is where the credit union philosophy of People Helping People becomes critical.

As not-for-profit cooperative financial services providers, credit unions support their members through good and difficult times alike. Options such as short-term, low-interest loans, lower-interest credit cards, financial counseling, or opportunities to delay loan payments are examples of benefits credit unions offer their members. Several Northwest credit unions have activated services to help those affected by the shutdown.

Icon Credit Union in Boise, Idaho, is working on a number of plans to help members who are affected by the shutdown, including low-interest loans, a 90-day no-pay program, and other services, should the shutdown become extended. Members (and non-members who need assistance and are seeking to join) only need to bring in a recent paycheck to show they’re affected.

“Icon Credit Union believes in being available for our members when times don‘t go as planned, such as a government furlough or unplanned emergencies,” said CEO, Connie Miller. “We are proud to step up with creative solutions to get members through unusual  circumstances. We were there for our members during the recent recession and we’ll be there for them tomorrow as well.”

At USAgencies Credit Union in Portland, members have access to a furlough program, where federal employees can defer one monthly payment for all non-real-estate secured loans or they may get a 60-day loan.

“We are always here and pride ourselves on the things we won’t do, including how we won’t turn our backs to our members when they need us the most,” said Yuki Lam, Marketing Specialist. “Our hope is to provide our members with some peace of mind.”

Other credit unions throughout the Northwest are also helping members, such as Spokane Federal Credit Union, where members can access no-interest loans, skip loan payments, and other options.

“We are committed to assisting our community members affected by the government shutdown,” said Charlotte Nemec, President and CEO. “We are offering several options to help members and non-members tackle the stress of not receiving a paycheck. In addition to options we already offer, we also have the ability to work with each individual to come up with the best solution to their individual needs.”

WSECU in Olympia, Washington, is helping members in a variety of ways. Depending on the member’s situation, the credit union has a range of resources that could offer relief and assistance during a temporary work stoppage. They include loan modification, short-term and longer-term emergency loans, budgeting assistance, and more.

“We’re ready to do all we can to reduce the burden and financial concerns stemming from the federal government shutdown,” said Ann Flannigan, Vice President of Public Relations. “Going without a paycheck for days or weeks can bring real turmoil into a household. We want public employees to know that we can help.”

OnPoint Community Credit Union in Portland is also focusing efforts to help federal employees. The credit union is offering a zero percent interest rate on personal loans, with the first payment due 90 days after loan funding, as well as skipped loan payments, restructuring on loans, a deferment program, and other services.

Idaho Central Credit Union, Rogue Credit Union, and Mid-Oregon Credit Union are also assisting members and were recently featured in local press outlets for their efforts.

Editor’s Note: Is your credit union helping federal employees during the government shutdown? If so, please tell us how by emailing Northwest Credit Union Association Communications Director Elizabeth Baker or by submitting your information here.

Posted in Community Impact.