WASHINGTON-The Treasury Department awarded more than $17 million in grants to 21 credit unions and CU organizations last week under the 2012 round of the Community Development Financial Institutions Program.

The biggest award was a $2-million grant to ASI FCU, Harahan, La., to provide low-interest loans for healthy food initiatives. ASI also won a seperate $1.5-million grant to help it provide low-cost mortgages for African-Americans and Latinos.

The National Federation of Community Development CUs received $1.5 million; the North Carolina Community Support Center received almost $1 million; and the El Paso CU Affordable Housing LLC got $100,000.

"This year's awardees will continue to provide vital financial services in low-income areas that are typically overlooked by traditional lenders, bettering the lives of Americans nationwide.," said Donna Gambrell, director of the CDFI program.

Among the award winners:

* NATCO CU, Richmond, Ind., will use its $313,000 grant to create the NATCO Community Resource Center, serving low- and very low-income, asset-poor individuals in its target market of Wayne, Indiana.

* Shreveport (Louisiana) FCU will use its $1.3 million as capital to establish the Shreveport Healthy Farm Financing Initiative, a small business farm lending program in the Mississippi Delta.

* Communicating Arts CU, Detroit, will use its $1 million as lending capital for blended-rate auto loans and other products.

* Guadalupe CU, Santa Fe, N.M., will use its $250,000 to expand services and deepen its relationship to the underserved target market, and also intends to open two storefront branches while maintaining safe capital reserves.

* Brooklyn (N.Y.) Cooperative FCU will use its $950,000 for capital, loan loss reserves to increase its lending and its ability to provide services to its target market.

* The National Federation of CDCUs will use its $1.5 million award to deploy secondary capital loans and reserves to organizations located in distressed census tracts.

* Latino Community CU in North Carolina will use its $1.5 million as equity capital to support asset growth associated with its recent branch and product expansion.

* Self-Help FCU in California will use its $1.5 million to provide home and consumer lending to 50 highly distressed census tracts in Kern and Tulare counties in California.

The CDFI Program awarded 210 organizations a total of $187 million this year, its biggest round of funding in its 18-year history. This year's awards also included almost $1 million to Native American groups to build two new credit unions on Indian reservations and to expand two others as part of its Native American CDFI Assistance program.

The awards included a $147,000 grant to the Lakota (Sioux) Federal CU Steering Committee, which is chartering a credit union on the Sioux Reservation in Kyle, S.D. The project received a $150,000 CDFI grant last year and is expected to be approved by NCUA in the coming months. The Pine Ridge Lakota Reservation covers 70,000 square miles in the western third of South Dakota and is home to 40,000 Native Americans, but it does not have a single bank or CU.

The Treasury also awarded $111,000 to the Ho-Chunk Community Development Corporation in Walthill, Neb., which is planning to charter a credit union for the Winnebago tribe.

Two Hawaiian CUs serving Native Hawaiian people also received grants. The Molokai Community FCU will use its $376,000 to provide housing related support to Native Hawaiians who have received land from the Department of Hawaiian Homelands. And the Prince Kuhio FCU will use its $364,000 grant to implement its Ho'ola Loan Program, which will provide unsecured loans as credit building alternatives to payday loans.



WASHINGTON-The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said last week credit unions and banks with fewer than 100 remittances per year are exempt from a requirement that providers of international money transfers provide upfront fee disclosures.

The bureau's final rule, which updated an earlier regulation on remittances, appeared aimed at soothing concerns that the fee requirements unduly harmed low-volume providers.

The CFPB previously had proposed a threshold of 25 transfers per year for exempting providers. "We recognize that in regulations, one size does not necessarily fit all," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. "The final remittance rule will protect the overwhelming majority of consumers while making the process easier for community banks, credit unions and other small providers that do not send many remittance transfers."

Under the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB was required to write a rule affording protections for remittance users, including that institutions disclose fees, exchange rates and how much a recipient in an international money transfer would receive.

The latest final rule provides a six-month transition period to comply with the new restrictions for institutions that had less than 100 remittances in the previous year but subsequently crossed the threshold. The rule also allows some flexibility for remittance transfers that are scheduled in advance of the actual transfer.

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