Meet me in St. Louis
Member service representative, Nykky Johnson, assists a St. Louis Community CU member in reviewing loan documents/ St. Louis Community CU
Paul Woodruff, Vice President of Community Development at St. Louis Community Credit Union, a $264 million institution based in St. Louis, said CDFI grants have been primarily used to offer used auto loans and also relief from predatory payday loans.
In 2010, he said, St. Louis Community CU received a $750,000 grant that was used to offer members an alternative to payday loans – a product that allowed members to pay off usurious loans from other sources. As in many poor, inner-city areas, many residents of urban St. Louis fall prey to payday loans charging excessive interest rates. “That program was quite successful as it allowed hundreds of our members to pay off these loans or to refinance their debt,” Woodruff said.
Another CDFI grant, valued at about $849,000 and disbursed in 2013, was used to offer members used auto loans – a necessity in St. Louis.
Woodruff noted that the credit union was able to leverage the $849,000 grant into an additional $22.7 million auto loans over a three-year period as part of its "Sure Rides" program.
“While St Louis has some public transit – light rail and buses – they are often not convenient for our members,” he explained. “And when you factor in the fact that most jobs are located outside of the city, a car becomes a crucial component in many peoples’ lives. In the absence of a car, a bus ride could take someone two hours each way.”
The latest grant, valued at about $1.1 million, will be used to expand on the credit union’s auto loan program.
Overall, Woodruff estimates that about 81 percent of St Louis Community’s membership – or about 43,000 people – are low- to moderate-income.