Self-Help Credit Union: Promoting Home Ownership and Healthy Food Systems in Low-Income Communities
We believe that healthy economies and communities must be built on a strong foundation of fairness and opportunity. The Domini Social Bond Fund invests in a number of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs)—banks and credit unions whose primary missions are to serve low income, minority, women, and immigrant communities historically underserved by traditional financial institutions.
Millions of Americans have lost their homes since 2007. The recent foreclosure crisis has had a devastating impact on working families, and foreclosures continue to drain hundreds of billions of dollars in wealth from families across America, with rural and minority communities being hit the hardest. In addition to the devastating impact these foreclosures have on affected households, they also cause a "spillover" effect by depressing the value of nearby homes—most owned by families who are paying their mortgages on time. This has resulted in lower property values for homeowners and a reduced tax base for communities, causing long-term negative effects on these neighborhoods.
To learn more about impacts from the foreclosure crisis, visit the Center for Responsible Lending’s website.
Since the foreclosure crisis, Self-Help Credit Union and its policy affiliate, the Center for Responsible Lending have been active in national and regional efforts to stabilize neighborhoods hard-hit by foreclosure, providing responsible housing loans, foreclosure prevention and recovery services, and policy research and advocacy to fight against predatory lending practices, including payday-lending and check-cashing services.
Self-Help was recently awarded a $3 million grant from the CDFI Fund under the Healthy Food Financing Initiative. It has provided a number of small business loans that connect local farmers to retail markets to build healthy food systems in underserved communities. One such loan is for a warehouse owned by a farmer cooperative for distribution and retail operations that sell a variety of local foods. In North Carolina, where 14 percent of residents lack adequate access to a grocery store and more than 30 percent of children and 67 percent of adults are overweight or obese, the healthy food systems that these initiatives are helping to create have been particularly beneficial. They have also helped local farmers transition away from tobacco farming, which poses significant health risks to farmers, including the potential for nicotine poisoning.
Domini has been a long-time supporter of Self Help Credit Union and its affiliates, as Self-Help has pioneered ways to promote home ownership and wealth building through responsible lending for working families. The Domini Social Bond Fund has invested a total of $700,000 in Self-Help Credit Union and its California affiliate, Self-Help Federal Credit Union.