NCUA is reporting that during 2001 a record 16.1-million Americans who live in underserved and low-income communities in the U.S. became eligible for credit union membership.
The agency does not track, however, penetration rates or how many of those individuals actually joined.
NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar credited the expansion to a decision in late 2000 to streamline the application process for expanding into underserved communities.
NCUA said that during 2001 165 federal credit unions "adopted" 282 low- income communities with a total population of 16.1 million people. That figure is a 580% increase over the year 2000, when FCUs expanded into 50 such areas representing 2.3-million people. In addition, Dollar said NCUA's faith-based credit union initiative resulted in approximately 350,000 more Americans have access to services from faith-based credit unions.
As was the case during 2000, the largest number of potential underserved members added during 2001 was in NCUA's Rocky Mountain region V, where 5.6- million people were added. The fewest potential members were added in Northeast Region I, where 754,458 people became eligible for membership.
"Although the results are the strongest in our agency's history, there are still many communities across America that need access to affordable financial services," said Dollar. "It will remain an NCUA priority to extend credit union services to these individuals, but to do so without unnecessary regulatory hurdles that actually could stifle this outreach."