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Border CUs Join Home Coalition

EL PASO, Texas-Credit unions here have joined with Fannie Mae and public sector groups to develop the American Dream Commitment for the Border Region, a six-year plan to finance up to $4 billion in affordable home sales along the Texas-Mexico border.

The El Paso Affordable Housing CUSO, a group of nine local credit unions, will help facilitate the project by providing low- and moderate-income borrowers with assistance on downpayments, closing costs and financial education. The program was kicked off in central El Paso in front of a dilapidated home seized for delinquent taxes that is targeted for rehabilitation by the El Paso Housing Authority with Fannie Mae financing.

The group, which was formed to help the area's unbanked open First Accounts, consists of El Paso Bell FCU, El Paso Employees FCU, El Paso Teachers CU, Golden Key FCU, Government Employees CU, Fort Bliss FCU, Mountain Star FCU and West Texas CU.

Bill Restricts Offers To Students

FRANKFORT, Ky.-The Kentucky House approved a bill aimed at restricting credit card solicitations on college campuses. The bill would require all credit card issuers to register with each college they solicit and would bar promotional giveaways aimed at enticing students to sign up for credit cards. It would also require written consent from parents before their children could be issued cards applied for on campus. The measure, however, would exempt credit unions and banks with on-campus offices. The bill is expected to have rough going in the Senate, where members have expressed their opposition to the measure.

Settlement Cost? Not Priceless

PURCHASE, N.Y.-Costs related to last year's multi-billion-dollar debit card settlement pushed MasterCard Inc. into the red in 2003 to the tune of $385.8 million, compared to a profit of $116.4 million the year before. MasterCard said it took a $763 million charge in connection for 2003 in connection with its agreement to pay $1 billion to settle antitrust charges in the debit card case (Visa agreed to pay $2 billion). The card company said it agreed to pay $25 million in cash by the end of 2003, and will pay the rest in annual installments over the next 10 years, under the settlement. MasterCard said revenue climbed 18% for the year to $2.23 billion for 2003.

Pillow Case Robber Enters Plea

KENT, Wash.-A man believed to be the "Pillow Case Robber" pleaded innocent to four area armed robberies. Ivy Byrd Gaines, 39, is charged with robbing Alaska USA FCU, and three other banks, but is suspected in as many as 10 area hold-ups since June 2002. Police dubbed the thief the Pillow Case Robber because surveillance videos show the robber brandishing a handgun and stuffing cash into a an empty pillow case.

Woman Believed Part Of Ring

KANSAS CITY, Mo.-A woman who held-up Midwest Regional CU is believed to be part of a robbery ring that has hit as many as 10 area banks and credit unions since December 2000.

The robbery occurred when the suspect assailed a female employee as she arrived at work, forced the employee inside the credit union, then held a gun to her head and forced the employee to give her cash, before fleeing. The suspect apparently had an accomplice to whom she was talking, according to the FBI. The suspect is believed to be part of a larger group responsible for nine other robberies.

FOM Opened To 135K People

ELGIN, Ill.-The Brethren Employees CU, reorganized last month as the Church of the Brethren CU, said it has expanded to a national charter making the 135,000 members, as well as employees, of the church, a mainline Protestant denomination, eligible to join the credit union. The rare national charter was approved in January by the Illinois Department of Financial Institutions. The 66-year-old CU has just 1,250 members and $4 million in assets, was previously opened to church members in Illinois and Wisconsin.

Hudson Valley FCU In Biz Services

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y.-Hudson Valley FCU said it has introduced a member business loan program, including deposit services for area businesses. The $1.7-billion credit union is marketing the program to businesses with fewer than 20 employees.

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