ATLANTA-Low-income credit unions are where the loans are.

According to NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz, low-income CUs grew lending by 57.6% ($11 billion) from December of 2007 through March of 2012, compared with 8.6% growth among credit unions overall during that same time period. Moreover, those loans came at the same time banks and thrifts decreased lending by 6.3%.

Speaking to the National Federation of Community Development CUs' meeting here, Matz called CDCUs "national trendsetters. The collective success of low-income credit unions demonstrates that credit unions can do well while serving people of modest means."

Lending was up 4.6% during the first quarter of this year, Matz said in remarks at the Loews Hotel here. "Low-income credit unions as a group now have a net worth ratio of 10.25%, 24 basis points higher than all federally insured credit unions," noted Matz. "Since year-end 2009, return on average assets at low-income credit unions has nearly doubled, delinquencies have held steady, and charge-offs have fallen by about a third."

Matz told the Federation meeting that the agency is increasing its programs and assistance through its Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives, including DVDs, online videos, webinars, e-newsletters, phone calls, and in-person visits and workshops. Additionally, qualified credit unions can now use a streamlined process to receive grants and loans with record-low rates, Matz said.

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