Press

NYC Celebrates Long Island City CDCU

Contact: Rafael O. Morales, Public Affairs Officer
● 212-809-1850, ext. 206
● rmorales@cdcu.coop

On Monday, April 26, the East River Development Alliance
(ERDA) celebrated the grand opening of the ERDA Federal Credit Union, a community development credit union (CDCU) that will serve residents of New York City’s Long Island City, a low-income community located across the East River from Manhattan’s midtown business district. The new credit union will focus much of its work on the Woodside, Ravenswood, Astoria, and Queensbridge Houses, which make up the primary membership of the new CDCU.

One of only two new federal charters granted in 2009 (both CDCUs) the opening of this institution provided reason to celebrate, and Monday’s ceremony drew more than 500 attendees. Cliff Rosenthal, President/CEO of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions
(Federation), which has been assisting ERDA organizers for nearly five years, joined an impressive list of keynote speakers, including U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney; New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; New York City Comptroller John Liu; New York State Assembly Members Catherine Nolan and Michael Gianaris; New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn; and New York City Council Members Jimmy VanBramer and Peter Vallone, Jr.

“The Federation has been working with ERDA credit union organizers since their start, nearly five years ago. To see the tremendous work they did in organizing today’s event, bringing together the Mayor, elected officials at every level, and leaders from public-housing, the faith community, and community organizing was extremely gratifying and impressive. Communities interested in organizing a CDCU can learn a lot from ERDA’s experience,” said Federation President/CEO Cliff Rosenthal.

The Need in Western Queens is Great

In a neighborhood where 3 in 10 residents lack bank accounts, and the majority of residents use check cashers for most of their financial transactions, the ERDA Federal Credit Union seeks to revolutionize the way public housing residents manage their money, build capital, and
achieve their financial goals.

With average incomes below $24,000 in each of ERDA’s target commmunities, ERDA’s members are well below both the New York City average income of $39,900 and the United States average income of $43,600. According to ERDA, only about half of families living in the various “Houses” are working families. These predominantly
minority residents will make up the credit union’s primary field of membership. Accordingly, organizers hope to embed a culture of ownership and savings in public housing neighborhoods in Western Queens and serve as a model for what is possible in public housing neighborhoods citywide and throughout the nation.

During his remarks at the ceremony, ERDA Founder and President, Bishop Mitchell G. Taylor, explained his vision to build a more sustainable Long Island City. “ERDA is dedicated to making public housing developments
places of great opportunity, places which house a positive vision of the future for the people who live here. The establishment of this financial cooperative, owned by residents, makes resident empowerment and ownership
real,” he said. “The opening of the ERDA FCU marks the next phase of ERDA’s work for change, and presents a
model for every public housing neighborhood in New York City.” New York City Mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg.
Federation President/CEO Cliff Rosenthal. New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg echoed the need for more community-controlled financial institutions to serve the City’s unbanked. “Nearly 50,000 Queens households – many in public housing – don’t have bank accounts, and one of the major reasons is a lack of access to local credit unions,” he explained. “The East River Development Alliance is committed to helping public housing residents in Long Island City move up the economic ladder, and its new federal credit union is a major step forward. The City’s Office of Financial Empowerment looks forward to working closely with ERDA to ensure that low-income New Yorkers throughout the City have access to the products and services they need. ERDA President Bishop Mitchell Taylor, Board Chair Jeremy Selman and the entire organization deserve a lot of credit for identifying real community needs and taking action to address them.”

U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who represents Long Island City, also praised the vision of Bishop Taylor and ERDA organizers. “Through his leadership and hard work, Bishop Taylor has given our community a wonderful gift – a new federal credit union to call our own,” she said. “It was a pleasure to work with Bishop Taylor to help open the ERDA Federal Credit Union, the first new credit union chartered during the Obama Administration, and the first to open in New York in a decade. Opening a credit union opens the door to financial security – and financial security brings hope, stability and wealth to a community. This is great news for western Queens and the people who live and work here. My heartfelt congratulations go out to Bishop Taylor and his team at ERDA – this is truly a day to celebrate.”

A cooperative financial institution has always been a part of ERDA’s theory of change for public housing neighborhoods, explained Bishop Mitchell Taylor. “ERDA empowers public housing residents to find jobs, manage their finances, go to college, and strengthen their neighborhoods. Now ERDA’s constituents will also be owners in a credit union – this culture of ownership and savings will help them achieve economic stability and mobility,” he said.

The ERDA Federal Credit Union has already secured a total of 1,000 pledges to open accounts from community residents, as well as $1.1 million in non-member deposit pledges, many from local credit unions, including United Nations Federal Credit Union, the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, Alternatives Federal Credt Union, Bethex Federal Credit Union, Consumers Federal Credit Union, Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union, and Amalgamated Bank, among others.
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About ERDA: The East River Development Alliance (ERDA) is a community-led and community-based economic development organization in Long Island City, dedicated to transforming and improving public housing neighborhoods and helping residents who live there achieve economic stability and mobility. Founded by Bishop Mitchell Taylor in collaboration with public housing residents, ERDA transforms public housing neighborhoods from within through community organizing and resident empowerment, and helps residents who live there achieve economic stability and mobility through employment, financial education, college access, and community revitalization initiatives.

About the Federation: The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (Federation) is a certified CDFI Intermediary representing more than 200 community development credit unions (CDCUs). The Federation’s member CDCUs provide credit, savings, transaction services and financial education to more than 1 million residents of low-income urban and rural communities across the United States. The Federation also represents 50 Community Development Partners, some of the nation’s largest credit unions with a special commitment to serving low-income communities. Founded in 1974, the Federation is headquartered in Lower Manhattan with offices in Colorado Springs, CO; Madison, WI; San Francisco, CA; and Washington, DC. The Federation offers a wide range of advocacy, educational, training, investment, marketing, and outreach programs to support and assist CDCUs. The Federation is also one of only a handful of organizations providing extensive assitance to credit union organizing groups. For more information about the Federation and its programs, please visit: www.cdcu.coop.


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