A group of faith leaders have started a campaign to raise $300,000 by the end of the year in hopes of opening a credit union on the West Side.
Spearheaded by The Leaders Network, the effort is focused on providing West Side residents more economic opportunities. David Cherry, president of The Leaders Network, said a credit union -owned and operated by the community – would offer another way to help people move out of poverty.
“If a person can get support from a financial institution … then they’re able to open grocery stores, dry cleaners and restaurants, and they can start putting people to work in their business, which would help the entire West Side,” Cherry said.
He said the lack of financial institutions on the West Side means fewer options for residents.
Cherry noted that some residents in and around Austin may not have the credit to obtain loans from a bank. A credit union, he said, is a great option for people who have been denied opportunities in the past. And it would offer residents an alternative to payday lenders and subprime businesses.
There’s no exact location in mind yet. Cherry said it could possibly be in a church, office building or store front.
At a Leaders Network meeting earlier this month, Rabbi Max Weiss of Oak Park Temple B’nai Abraham Zion said, “This is a way to help folks and have folks help themselves. I know we can make this happen.”
Rev. Ira Acree of Greater St. John Bible Church vowed to raise $5,000, prompting Rev. Marshall E. Hatch Sr. of New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church and Rev. Cy Fields of Landmark Baptist Church to promise to raise more than that. Rev. Timothy Hoekstra also pledged to raise funds for the effort.
You can donate to the fund here.
Suzanne McBride contributed to this story.