Canopy Credit Union Expands Help with Rent Loan to Three More Counties

The credit union reviewed feedback from focus groups to find a creative solution to help members facing financial hardship.

8/4/2020

Due to the overwhelming need for financial assistance, Canopy Credit Union has expanded their 0% Help with Rent Loan to Spokane, Stevens, and Pend Oreille counties. 

“Now more than ever, safe affordable housing is a critical need in our community. Because there is a continued need for financial assistance due to long term furloughs and layoffs, we decided to expand our emergency Help with Rent Loan,” said Guy Ottersen, VP of Lending and Member Experience at Canopy.

Earlier this year, Canopy received a $17,000 Workforce Housing Research Grant from the Northwest Credit Union Foundation. They used this grant to conduct a series of focus groups with Strategic Research Associates to learn more about current renters’ needs and the needs of affordable housing agencies. Within the focus groups, they received input from both low-income-area residents and individuals within the business community who work directly to provide affordable housing options. Participants were recruited blindly to ensure the validity of the information gathered.

“We [Strategic Research Associates] partnered with Canopy Credit Union to conduct exploratory market research to gain better insights into what types of challenges face individuals in our community who struggle with maintaining stable housing. Through our combined efforts, we unearthed many challenges that renters face. One reality became quickly evident to our team; there is a gaping disconnect between affordability, safety, and the availability of inventory in the Spokane Low-Income Housing market,” said Joanne Vega, Director and General Manager of Strategic Research Associates.

Canopy reviewed the feedback from the focus group attendees to find a creative solution that could bridge this financial gap.

“Working in the affordable housing community, I’ve seen firsthand how people are needing financial support during this season. It’s encouraging to see local credit unions like Canopy working hard to help people continue to pay rent and stay in their homes,” said Keith Kelley, Owner of Kelley Rental Properties, LLC.

“Applicants can get up to $2,000 with an 18-month term,” said Ottersen.

Applicants also may qualify for up to 100 days before their first payment is due.

“It had been 10 weeks since I filed for unemployment and I still hadn’t received any funds. My husband is on disability so we were able to make some payments, but rent was a big expense we were struggling to make. I went into a bit of a panic not knowing what to do. I remembered my positive experience earlier in the year with Canopy Credit Union and called them to see if they could help. I found out they were offering a 0% Help with Rent Loan with up to 100 days before the first payment is due and I knew I had called the right place! They helped me feel a sense of security in a scary and unknown time. I feel extra special and am so grateful!” said Canopy member, Rebecca Haney.

In order to apply for this 0% loan, Canopy requires proof of need (loss of income due to furlough, layoff, reduced time, etc.), a copy of the tenant’s rental agreement and verification of rent owed. 

“We have allocated $150,000 to lend out for this temporary Help with Rent Loan, and we encourage borrowers to access this loan only if they need it. We hope our community can use this assistance to alleviate financial stress caused by COVID-19,” said Ottersen.

The core of the credit union’s mission is to support their members and the community and be available to them in times of need.