Our Stories

Public Counsel's Rapid Response Supports Low-Cost Lending to People Hurt by Economic Crisis

Edgar’s recent job loss began a cycle of loss with no end in sight. He lost his car and couldn’t find another job without having transportation to get to the job.  One credit union offered 23% interest for a loan to get his car back. 

Fortunately, Edgar found another resource.  Episcopal Community Federal Credit Union offered Edgar a 9% loan, worked with him to enable him to get his car back, and helped him keep his new job. 

Nonprofits Are an Economic Lifeline

Nonprofit community development credit unions (CDCUs) like Episcopal have long offered this kind of economic lifeline to communities that have been abandoned by commercial banks and targeted by high-priced check cashers and predatory lenders.  Unlike most credit unions, Episcopal FCU participates in risk-based lending, which allows people with imperfect credit reports to apply for loans. 

When the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Capital Initiative recently invested nearly $70 million of desperately needed capital in CDCUs across the nation, Public Counsel went into action. 

The complex financing deals had to close within a period of a few weeks, and each of the 48 participating credit unions required a legal opinion before the Treasury would release the funds.

Attorneys Race Against the Clock to Win Federal Dollars

Public Counsel worked in partnership with the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and Lawyers Alliance in New York to recruit volunteer attorneys for this national project who met the deadline.

Shai Halbe, an attorney with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP, volunteered to assist with Episcopal Community Federal Credit Union’s loan documentation because “these funds would allow them to further help working Americans who are in need of modest financial assistance.” Halbe’s involvement in the process allowed Episcopal to borrow $100,000 for use in this important mission. 

Daniel Scott, the president of Faith Based Federal Credit Union, said that with the efforts of attorneys Roger Rosendahl and Craig Tighe from DLA Piper LLP, his nonprofit was able to leverage the $30,000 it received to serve a greater number of borrowers – and to stay in business. ”Without their pro bono help, Faith Based FCU wouldn’t be around today,” Scott said.

About Us: Public Counsel’s Community Development Project builds strong foundations for healthy, vibrant and economically stable communities through its comprehensive legal and capacity building work for nonprofits and small businesses in and around Los Angeles.  This work would not be possible without the network of over a thousand volunteer attorneys, all experts in their fields, who invest their time on a pro bono basis to build the capacity of the nonprofit sector.