Government shutdown: Credit unions are ready to help

The last time Congress couldn’t agree on government funding, it left federal employees, contractors, and others trapped in a 35-day government shutdown without pay. It seems that we are heading in that direction once again – and credit unions are ready to step up for their members.

Our focus for the coming days (hopefully not weeks or months) is providing credit unions with the support and tools necessary to serve their communities. This is reflective of credit unions’ focus on their members’ success and showcases how credit unions make a difference.

Credit unions look for ways to address needs with action. We’re approaching this shutdown the same way we do for other obstacles. By asking, “what do our members need to get through this?”

Those solutions might be to offer zero interest personal loans, waive early withdrawal penalties on certificates of deposits, allow skip a payment on current loans, and any number of personalized solutions. That’s because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for every credit union and every member.

After all, credit unions know their members better than anyone.

During the 2019 government shutdown, credit unions provided more than $46 million in low- or no-interest loans. More than 11,000 members received needed loan extensions and other modifications. And more than 3,000 people joined a credit union. Credit unions were ready and equipped to help their members the day government funding lapsed, and we are ready now.

That’s what financial first responders do. This is how credit unions fulfill our “people helping people” philosophy. We work to enhance the financial well-being of members through thick and thin.

Starting on October 1, an estimated 800,000 federal employees will begin to feel the pinch when the government shuts down. The longer the shutdown goes on, the longer government workers will be forced to live without a paycheck, while the costs of everyday life won’t stop.

But this negative impact isn’t limited to just government workers. Both the Small Business Administration and the Federal Housing Administration likely will be unable to process loan requests and loan origination applications during the shutdown. Economic activity could falter due to a lack of government funding. Government workers and consumers across the country will face challenges – and credit union members will have options.

However, there are many people and underserved communities that might not. CUNA’s latest voter survey shows 38% of nonmembers say they do not have $500 in emergency savings. These are the people who won’t be able to get groceries, pay bills, or cover medical expenses if there’s an extended government shutdown. American families should not face financial alternatives in making ends meet due to a political crisis.

But if they do – credit unions will be there.

We hope members of Congress come together and figure out a solution quickly to keep the government open and hundreds of thousands of workers receiving their hard-earned paychecks.

Whether it’s for a few days or much longer, credit unions will be there regardless. In fact, CUNA has a government shutdown webpage where we will add details on credit unions’ efforts to serve as a resource for lawmakers and people looking for help. Our more than 135 million members count on us, they trust us, and we will respond to the needs of our members.

Considering we took root during the Great Depression, credit unions are at their best when things seem the worst – and providing a helping hand for those facing tough times is in our DNA.

Jason Stverak

Jason Stverak

Jason Stverak currently serves as the Deputy Chief Advocacy Officer for the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). Prior to that he served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for U.... Web: Details