HLPR Program Adding Members

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When CUNA launched its Home Loan Payment Relief (HLPR) program in late October, more than 60 of the nation's credit unions pledged $1 billion in commitments to underwriting the program, which is aimed at getting low-to moderate-income people into their own homes.

CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel said since the start of HLPR, 20 more credit unions are waiting for board approval to join, and commitments have increased by $20 million.

"Now the word is out," he said. "It takes a few months. We're expecting to get quite a few more in the next few months."

In response to the sharply rising cost of owning a home in America, CUNA organized credit unions that were willing to offer adjustable rate mortgages at a one-percentage-point discount to qualified buyers who make less than the area's median annual income. All members of participating credit unions will be eligible for the HLPR loan program.

Hampel said CUNA will begin collecting HLPR loan data in January and then conduct a second round of publicizing the program to get even more credit unions to come on board. Hampel called HLPR a "pilot program" that would undergo its first review in mid-2006 to learn what is working and if any changes need to be made. "We don't expect any major modifications," he said.

Hampel said the HLPR goal is to add $1.5 billion per year with an eventual target of $10 billion in loans underwritten.

Credit unions of any size can join HLPR, and since there is a 3% portfolio cap on each CU's level of participation, Hampel said it provides a "safety valve" of not having too many assets tied up in one program. "We're asking any credit union that makes mortgage loans to participate," he said. "So far it seems to have been successful and we're looking forward to seeing some data in January."

The largest commitments to HLPR have been made by Navy FCU ($125 million), Boeing Employees CU ($100 million), and Orange County Teacher's FCU ($60 million).

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