3 NH CUs Commit To Home Buying Program

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Three credit unions here have collectively committed $12 million over the next five years to assist low-income residents in New Hampshire.

Holy Rosary Regional CU in Rochester, and Northeast CU and Service CU, both in Portsmouth, created a new loan initiative called Credit Union Community Outreach to provide money for emergency loans and real estate.

Nancy Layton, Marketing Manager at Service CU, said the initiative was modeled after a similar campaign of St. Mary's Bank CU in Manchester and inspired by the statewide Partnering and Leadership Successes (PALS) program through with 32 credit unions have committed $35 million to affordable housing.

Layton said anybody who lives or works in the state of New Hampshire is eligible for membership at one of the three CUs, thus making them possible candidates for these loans.

To qualify for a loan, they must be referred by a social services agency, Layton said, adding that the CUs are still in the process of spreading the word to area agencies about the available funds.

A portion of the money will go toward emergency loans to pay for medical bills, utility bills car repairs and rent, for example. The maximum that can be borrowed is $500 to be paid back at below market rate interest over a 10-month period, Layton said.

A benefit is that the member demonstrates an ability to pay back the loan, thus establishing a good credit history.

The remainder is earmarked for people who want to purchase their first home but can't get a traditional loan because of a poor financial history. Layton said participants would be required to attend an eight-hour course on how to budget, what to look for when buying a home and how much home one can afford. Layton said while monetary benefits are negligible, they will all reap the rewards of being able to serve their communities.

"In the process, we will hopefully get some good members out of it,'' she said.

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