Access to Credit Unions

Woodstock Institute researches credit union trends and works to ensure that they are adequately serving their communities.

Woodstock Institute Theory of Change graphic
April 20, 2016

In this first part of our Theory of Change series of blog posts and images, Woodstock President Dory Rand explains the ways in which Woodstock Institute is working to achieve our mission of creating a just financial system in which lower-wealth people and communities, and people and communities of color, can achieve economic security and community prosperity. In this series, our research and policy staff will discuss the strategies we use to effect positive, lasting financial systems change. 

May 27, 2015

It’s a vicious cycle: because some people in the low- and moderate-income community either lack traditional credit histories or rely on financing from non-mainstream credit providers that aggressively market to those lower-income communities, these consumers often have no other choice but to turn to payday and other predatory lenders where interest rates are extremely high, leading them to fall behind on their payments.  This, in turn, negatively impacts their credit scores…and the cycle continues.

January 23, 2015
Small businesses in low-income, majority minority neighborhoods in the Chicago area were less likely to receive loans between 2008 and 2012, according to a report from the Woodstock Institute, recipient of the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. The report, which examines...
July 26, 2013

In the early 1970s, Aaron and Sylvia Scheinfeld were unhappy with the state of things in the Chicago region. Redlining, predatory lending, and inequality plagued the area.

August 17, 2010

As bank regulators take a close look at modernizing the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) through a series of hearings and public comment period, we’re walking you through some key reasons why CRA must be updated. Last week, we explained how assessment areas don’t fully capture where a bank does business (see the discussion at Huffington Post). Today we’ll explain how CRA applies only to a fraction of the financial industry and why communities need a broader CRA to ensure that all financial institutions are offering safe and sustainable products where they do business.

August 17, 2010

As bank regulators take a close look at modernizing the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) through a series of hearings and public comment period, we’re walking you through some key reasons why CRA must be updated. Last week, we explained how assessment areas don’t fully capture where a bank does business (see the discussion at Huffington Post). Today we’ll explain how CRA applies only to a fraction of the financial industry and why communities need a broader CRA to ensure that all financial institutions are offering safe and sustainable products where they do business.

June 25, 2008
Marva Williams, Principal Investigator Sarah Duda and Tom Feltner, Co-Authors This report details the partnership process and lessons learned from a two-year technical assistance program designed to help community organizations partner with mainstream credit unions with the goal of enrolling new...
July 25, 2007

Credit unions can offer sustainable, affordable short term credit at a fraction of the cost of traditional payday lenders, says a recent report by Marva Williams, until recently Woodstock Institute senior vice president.

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May 24, 2007
Marva Williams This report summarizes an 18-month evaluation of the affordable payday loan alternative products offered by six community development credit unions. In addition to describing loan activity, the report identifies the financial and operational factors that account for the program's...
October 12, 2004
Marva Williams and Valjean McLenighan The purpose of this guide is to help community organizations enable their members to join a mainstream credit union and begin building modest assets. Many credit unions offer financial products and services tailored to the needs of low-income people, but...
March 9, 2004
Marva Williams Describes the regulatory and other industry trends that impact the penetration of lower-income markets by credit unions. The report recommends that the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) be amended to include credit unions.
May 14, 2002
Marva Williams Describes historical impact of secondary capital investments on low-income credit unions. Includes detailed case studies of four credit unions that are recipients of secondary capital investments. Offers policy recommendations related to the effectiveness of this investment tool.
February 12, 2002
Katy Jacob, Malcolm Bush, and Daniel Immergluck This report examines the reality of credit unions' claim that they honor the mission stated in the Federal Credit Union Act to meet the savings and credit needs of "persons of modest means." The report also discusses why it is so important that...
November 10, 1998
Marva Williams Demonstrates how low-income credit unions (LICUs) have become a growing force in the world of financial institutions, using data collected from the National Credit Union Administration for the years 1990-1996. Highlights LICUs' successful financial management and crucial role in...
January 9, 1996
Kathryn Tholin (A Project by the Credit Union Foundation, Inc.) Documentation of the Vermont Development Credit Union's Affordable Mortgage Lending Program, a unique program which combines home purchase counseling with non-mortgage loan products to assist potential homebuyers become ready for a...