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Credit Union Replaces Southwest Side’s Second Federal

A California-based credit union that caters to female, low-income and minority communities announced Wednesday it is opening three new branches in Little Village, Cicero and Brighton Park.

The announcement came just months after hundreds of families in Chicago’s Southwest side faced possible foreclosure when Second Federal Savings & Loan Association closed.

Self-Help Federal Credit Union and The Resurrection Project, a Pilsen nonprofit that provides affordable housing to Latinos in Chicago, are teaming up to open three branches in Chicago after acquiring the approximately 1,100 mortgage loans Nov. 12.

“We learned of the situation and thought it dovetailed with our mission of working with communities,” said David Beck, media director for Self-Help.

Ulises Silva, communications manager for The Resurrection Project, was concerned the loans would be auctioned off to predatory lenders.

“We were trying to avoid mass foreclosures,” he said.

One house foreclosing is how blight begins, said Silva, who thinks the significance of the acquisition can’t be measured right away.

“Communities in Chicago have been hit very hard by foreclosures. It’s a viral effect. By saving that one home, you protect the whole community,” he said.

To acquire the loans The Resurrection Project needed help from a credit union, or as Silva put it, “someone to front all the capital.”

Self-Help viewed the acquisition of the $141 million in loans as a first step. The organization wants to expand its California and North Carolina base to include Chicago, said Beck.

Self-Help is already invested in the neighborhood and expects to make a full transition to operating as a Self-Help Federal Credit Union in the three branches, although it is unclear when the name change might occur, said Beck.

There is a big gap for community members when a financial institution like Second Federal closes, said Beck.

“We are always very worried when communities have potential to lose services like this,” he said.

Ald. Danny Solis (25th) said he wants to see more organizations geared toward helping the Latino community, but he wants to see them in Little Village and Cicero where he said the majority of the Hispanic population lives.

“The irony is that probably 80 percent of Latino organizations are in Pilsen, but the problems are further south and west,” he said.

“I don’t deny that there are problems in Pilsen, but good things are happening here. What I’m saying is they should go where the issues are.”

Solis said he is glad to see the credit unions come to Little Village, Brighton Park and Cicero because there are minimal foreclosures in Pilsen.


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